Public Funding? Private Funding? No Matter the Source, Substance Abuse Treatment Centers Fall Short of Ideal Model

Analysis of data on the use of evidence-based practice in addiction treatment agencies

From 2005 to 2008, researchers at the Center for Research on Behavioral Health and Human Services Delivery in the University of Georgia's Institute for Behavioral Research examined practices in substance abuse treatment centers, drawing on existing data from face-to-face interviews with leaders at 403 privately-funded and 363 publicly-funded treatment centers.

Researchers published three peer-reviewed articles examining the ways in which:

  • Organizational structure and funding sources influence the availability of core medical and treatment services for substance abuse and of supportive services, such as transportation and child care assistance.
  • Organizational characteristics of substance abuse treatment centers influence the use of medications, and whether patterns differ by type of medication.
  • Job demands and resources influence emotional exhaustion and the intention to quit among leaders of substance abuse treatment centers.

Key Findings:

  • Private sector substance abuse treatment facilities generally offer more core medical and treatment services, while public sector programs offer more supportive services. However, both sectors fall short of the ideal model of service comprehensiveness.
  • There is considerable variation in the use of medication to treat substance abuse. Medications were least available at publicly-funded nonprofit organizations and most available at privately-funded nonprofit and for-profit centers.
  • Among leaders of treatment centers, performance demands and the centralization of decision-making authority are positively associated with emotional exhaustion among leaders, which is a predictor of the intention to quit. Long-term strategic planning at treatment centers is negatively associated with emotional exhaustion.

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