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Outcomes of patients in a VA ambulatory detoxification program
Psychiatric Services 1997; doi:
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The study examined outcomes of patients enrolled in a Veterans Affairs ambulatory detoxification program. METHODS: Descriptive statistical data were collected by routine clerical processes at a VA medical center. Patients' outcomes were operationally defined to include completion of the detoxification program, dropout or discharge, or re-enrollment in the program; admission to inpatient detoxification; and referral to, entry into, and completion of substance abuse rehabilitation after detoxification. Outcomes were determined for 517 of the 577 patients consecutively referred to the program during nine months in 1995. Patients met established criteria for mild to moderate alcohol withdrawal syndrome. RESULTS: Of the 517 patients, 453 successfully completed outpatient detoxification. Twenty patients dropped out, 19 were discharged, 37 re-enrolled, and 25 were admitted for inpatient detoxification. Of the 453 patients who completed outpatient detoxification, 434 were referred for further treatment; 415 entered and 322 completed the next treatment phase. CONCLUSIONS: The completion rate for patients in the outpatient detoxification program and rates for continuing and completing further treatment were higher than in previous studies. Measures of poor short- term outcome (dropout, re-enrollment, and admission to inpatient detoxification) also compared favorably with previous studies. Unique factors contributing to outcomes included systematic screening, medical protocols for detoxification, psychosocial therapies, program-supported housing, and attention to patient satisfaction.

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