Long-Term Outcomes After Residential Substance Use Treatment: Relapse, Morbidity, and Mortality

Mil Med. 2017 Jan;182(1):e1589-e1595. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-15-00560.


A cohort of 207 veterans admitted to a residential substance use treatment program was followed for 5 years following discharge to determine factors associated with reduced relapse or mortality following discharge. Subsequent utilization of medical and psychiatric hospitalization and emergency room utilization was also examined. Retrospective chart review was conducted using demographic, diagnostic, and prior treatment as independent variables. Dependent variables included aftercare compliance and subsequent morbidity as measured by relapse, emergency room visits, subsequent hospitalizations, and mortality. Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine factors associated with relapse and mortality. Aftercare attendance was higher in those who completed treatment (p < 0.01). Factors associated with higher risk of relapse included comorbid disorders, failure to complete the index residential substance use treatment program, and psychiatric rehospitalization. Factors associated with higher mortality included failure to complete residential substance use treatment, longer medical rehospitalization, and nicotine dependence. Longer psychiatric rehospitalization was associated with a lower risk of mortality. Comorbid psychiatric conditions and failure to complete residential substance use treatment were associated with higher relapse. Limitations include that this population has severe substance use disorder, that subjective report of symptom severity was not assessed and that attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous aftercare was not surveyed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Patient Outcome Assessment*
  • Recurrence
  • Residential Treatment / standards*
  • Residential Treatment / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / mortality*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Veterans / psychology
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data*