DATOS, the Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Studies, was started in 1990 and was initiated by NIDA, National Institute on Drug Abuse to explore how well drug abuse treatment works and to study new matters related to treatment in the United States. This was the third nationwide evaluation study by NIDA to understand the results of publicly-funded drug abuse treatment. In 1995, four research centres were given funding to work independently on their own research projects based on DATOS, but they worked together to coordinate programs.
At DATOS, the mission was to push the boundaries of scientific understanding about Drug Abuse Treatment. They were creating a rich history of finding treatment outcomes to go on the journey to uncover what truly works. Their research includes evolving treatment funding and organisation, shifting public concerns, and organization of treatment programs. With these issues in focus, research explores more scientific and policy-related issues questions.
- Current results of contemporary treatment, mainly the long-term effects and their connection to the different stages of addiction and the treatment.
- Investigation of the developing system for evolving drug abuse treatment system, including the use and delivery of ancillary and primary services.
- Investigating the components of right and effective treatment, which includes factors that actively involve and maintain clients within programs.
What are the services offered by DATOS?
These researchers looked at the services that were needed and given to clients who were admitted for treatment in DATOS between 1991-1993. They analyzed and compared these services to those provided to clients in TOPS between 1979-1981. The study was focused mainly on seven types of services: psychological, family, medical, legal, educational, financial, and vocational.
- Around half of the clients who entered LTR, OMT, and ODF programs in TOPS and DATOS needed many services after three months of the treatment. The rates of need ranged from 25-75% depending on the specific treatment and service methods.
- Overall, DATOS’s clients had higher needed when compared to TOPS’s clients who were admitted to TOPS ten years ago.
- There was an increase in unmet needs in clients of TOPS and DATOS. This can be seen in two important types of services that this group needed, that are psychological and medical services.
- In TOPS, the percentage of unmet needs for psychological services ranged from 7-20% and 6-18% for medical services. However, if we talk about DATOS, the percentage of unmet needs rose from 54-57% for psychological services and 25-40% for medical services.
- In this pattern, it was found that in DATOS, only 5% of OMT clients(compared to 20% in TOPS), 15% of ODF clients(compared to 60% in TOPS), and 50% of LTR clients(compared to 77% in TOPS) received services from more than of these categories.
- In both TOPS and DATOS, the main factor of treatment is making treatment plans together with clients, individual counselling that focuses on abstaining from drug misuse, relapse prevention, group therapy, supportive 12-Step aftercare, and urine monitoring.
- Over the past ten years, there has been an improvement in the quality of these important drug counselling services, with positive levels generally seen across all three modalities (LTR, ODF, and OMT).
- At the same time, there has been a decline in the availability of complete services, usually called “wrap-around” services, that are mainly provided with basic drug abuse treatment. Their services include psychological, medical, and educational support and family to restore the important aspects of the recovery process.
- The decline in the availability of supportive services has been smallest in OMT settings, mainly because these types of programs have faced challenges in offering such services. In teh first three months of the treatment, only 1 in 4 DATOS clients received medical services, whereas only 1 in 10 received family, psychological, and educational services.
- The rate of offering complete services was low among ODF clients, and they only saw a two-fold increase among residential clients in LTR programs. In both of these services, there were decreases compared to the records of treatment services in TOPS from about 10 years ago.
What are the treatment history and outcomes?
The DATOS admission sample considered a change in terms of patterns of treatment history and drug use, as noted in a study conducted by Hser, Anglin, and Grella in 1997.
- About half of the clients in the DATOS study were getting treatment for the first time, whereas the other half had undergone around 3.5 previous episodes of treatment.
- People in ODF and STI were the least likely to report having received prior treatments with around 50% of them having no experience of previous treatment. On the other hand, people in OMT and LTR were 10-25% more likely to have prior treatment experience compared to those in ODF and STI.
- In all the services of treatment, the average age at which the person first got treatment was 30 years. Also, the average time between they started using drugs regularly and their first treatment admission was about 7 years.
- Clients who were admitted to OMT programs have reported longer periods of struggling with addiction and undergoing treatment. Whereas clients in ODF and STI programs had shorter and fewer histories of treatment and addiction.
- ODF programs admitted different types of clients, like a larger percentage of people who were independent of heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.
- People who were dependent on alcohol and cocaine were more inclined to get treatment in STI programs compared to the ones who use heroin. This observation may be reflected in the increased demand for short-term chemical dependency treatment during the cocaine epidemic in the 1980s, as well as the historical use of this treatment service for alcohol-related issues.
- People who use Heroin and Cocaine and who had never got treatment before were more to choose STI programs compared to those who had undergone treatment in the past.
- Having a history of getting more treatment in the past was linked to more severe characteristics of addiction, like injection drug use and involvement in criminal activities, at the time of going for treatment.
- Treatment methods should prioritize strategic interventions that address and recognize to the vast treatment of histories of clients.
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