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Promising Practices Guidelines for Residential Substance Abuse Treatment

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2017
46 pages

This paper's objective is to assist correctional administrators and practitioners at the state and county levels in establishing and maintaining residential substance abuse treatment (RSAT) programs that adhere to the promising practices suggested by current research and related standards developed for substance-use disorder treatment and criminal justice programming.


The National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) CrimeSolutions.gov registry lists four studies of RSAT programs that have been rated "promising," which means they show some evidence that indicates they have achieved their intended outcomes. None received sufficient study for a rating higher than "promising." Programs rated as "effective," the highest rating, have evidence to indicate they achieve their intended outcomes when implemented with fidelity. The four "promising" RSAT programs reviewed include one with a therapeutic community model; one with a cognitive-behavioral curriculum that emphasizes relapse prevention; one in-prison program that uses workbooks, teacher guides, videotapes, psychodrama groups, and "life mentors;" and one that begins with a prison-based therapeutic community and continues with post-release treatment in the community. The promising practices discussed from the four programs are related to intake, screening, and assessment; core program components and structure; staffing and training; treatment and service interventions; drug-free environments; transition and aftercare planning; and measuring results. Appendices contain RSAT Promising Practices Guidelines Roundtable attendees, a description of evidence-based programs, and pharmacotherapies.

Date Published: November 1, 2017