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Risk Factors That Predict Dropout From Corrections-Based Treatment for Drug Abuse

NCJ Number
Prison Journal Volume: 79 Issue: 4 Dated: December 1999 Pages: 411-430
Date Published
20 pages

Early dropout or failure to engage in drug abuse treatment is a common problem in correctional settings; this study examined 339 felony probationers mandated to a 6-month modified therapeutic community in lieu of imprisonment in Dallas County, Texas.


The felony probationers were admitted to the Dallas County Judicial Treatment Center in Wilmer, Texas, between March and December 1997. Social history indicators showed they were predominantly male (72 percent), black (42 percent), or white (48 percent) and had never been married (46 percent). Almost all probationers had used alcohol and marijuana during their lifetime, most had a history of cocaine use, and many had used heroin or other opiates. During the first week of treatment, probationers completed a comprehensive assessment battery. Later, they completed the Self-Rating Form to assess psychosocial functioning and treatment motivation at intake. Information was obtained on sociodemographic background, drug abuse history, criminal history, criminality, peer group functioning, psychosocial and treatment motivation, and treatment dropout. Results showed that early dropout was related to cocaine dependence, having a history of psychiatric treatment, and being unemployed before adjudication to treatment and to higher levels of depression, anxiety, and hostility. Dropout rates also were higher for probationers with deviant peer networks and lower self-efficacy ratings. Multivariate analyses, however, indicated that scoring high on a criminality risk index was the strongest predictor of leaving treatment early and appeared to represent a good composite risk measure. The authors believe the findings can help identify who needs residential treatment and who is at greatest risk for not completing such treatment. 83 references, 3 notes, and 3 tables

Date Published: January 1, 1999