American Addiction Centers (AAC) released findings of its first patient outcomes study this week, and although the data reflects well on the provider’s services, AAC’s chief clinical and compliance officer says the bigger goal of the project was to change perceptions about the addiction treatment field as a whole.
“Our industry is often criticized for what people say is a lack of outcomes, when in fact there is a great deal of research and evidence supporting the effectiveness of addiction treatment and depression treatment,” says Tom Doub, PhD. “There is a lot of evidence of efficacy, but across the industry, we still face a lot of skepticism about the effectiveness of our services.”
Working in partnership with Centerstone Research Institute, AAC used three years’ worth of research to analyze how treatment at AAC facilities has impacted the lives of its patients. More than 4,000 patients were tracked from intake to discharge, then at two months, six months and one year after release. Results showed that 63% of patients maintained abstinence from all substances for one year. Among the other findings:
- Days of alcohol use dropped by 80% one year after completing treatment.
- Days with significant family conflict decreased 87%.
- Days experiencing physical health problems dropped 44%.
- Days experiencing mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety decreased 56%.
Doub attributed the results to the way AAC has been implementing a holistic approach to treatment that includes medications and therapeutic interventions, as well as longer lengths of stay in treatment.
“The research supports that a longer length of stay—treating addiction as a chronic disease as opposed to an acute illness—will result in better outcomes,” he says. “If you look at diseases like diabetes, if you do an acute stabilization of blood sugar, you’re not changing behaviors or educating people on how to manage their diet and giving them support going forward. You’re not going to have good outcomes with that. Addiction is very much the same. We take a long-term chronic disease-oriented approach to our treatment.”
Doub says that AAC’s aim in publishing the outcomes study is to instill confidence in those who need help in dealing with addiction or depression that treatment works, whether it is at an AAC facility or elsewhere.
“It’s important for us, as a field, to be measuring and communicating those outcomes,” Doub says. “Hopefully, it’s reassuring to patients and their families that they can expect to receive help and benefit from our services.”
In a news release announcing the findings of the study, AAC said it plans to conduct a second round of research to analyze the impact of treatment on other healthcare costs, such as emergency room visits and hospitalizations.