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Treatment Referrals Most Likely to Come from Criminal-Justice System

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The criminal-justice system accounts for more than one in three referrals to addiction-treatment programs nationally, and such referrals are more likely to result in completed treatment stays, according to the latest Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

A total of 1.8 million Americans were admitted to treatment programs in 2007, according to the TEDS report, and of these 671,000 (37 percent) were referred by the criminal-justice system. Researchers found that 22 percent of criminal-justice referred patients dropped out of treatment, compared to 27 percent of overall treatment patients.

Criminal-justice referrals of adolescents (under age 18) have increased from 38 percent of all admissions in 1992 to 47 percent in 2007, the TEDS data showed. Alcohol, opiates, marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine accounted for 96 percent of all treatment admissions, with the high rate of juveline referrals from the criminal-justice system perhaps explaining the high prevalance of admissions with marijuana cited as the primary drug of abuse, researchers said.

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