Alcohol and other substance use disorders are seen as chronic, remitting disorders with frequent, co-occurring relapse as part of the change process. The central goal of treatment for substance use disorders is to either substantially reduce or stop the substance use, or to reduce hazardous substance use. To be viewed as effective, treatment needs to not only be effective in the short term (i.e. at the time of treatment), but for a significant period of time following end of treatment.
Although the effectiveness of an alcohol or drug treatment programme is frequently measured by changes in primary outcomes, such as harmful substance use, it is also important to consider the impact of treatment on secondary outcomes focusing on the consequential harm of alcohol use, including poor health, impaired quality of life, interpersonal conflict, and criminality.
Dr Tess Patterson, Department of Psychological Medicine, was a Principal Investigator in a large nationwide collaborative project that provided independent, evidence-based assessment and evaluation of The Salvation Army’s Bridge Programme Model of Treatment in New Zealand. The Bridge Programme is a residential treatment service for people whose lives have been affected by the harmful use of, or dependency on, alcohol or drugs (see link below for the full review of the evaluation).
Based on this initial research project, Dr Tess Patterson and Dr Julien Gross (Psychology Department) are currently undertaking another evaluation study examining the effectiveness of an alcohol and drug addiction treatment programme in Samoa.