Recent report on Baltimore's drug problem and the...


November 01, 1993

IN ITS recent report on Baltimore's drug problem and the lack of adequate treatment facilities in the city, the Abell Foundation cited research findings bolstering its case that treatment works, that it is a viable way of combating drug abuse and that treatment programs are cost effective.

One of those reports, a 1988 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, reached the following conclusions about drug treatment:

* Illicit drug use among intravenous drug abusers is immediately reduced, with an average of 75 percent of those in treatment using no illicit drugs.

* The transmission of AIDS among intravenous drug abusers is significantly abated, with those in treatment showing the lowest rates of infection.

In 1989, the same organization published the results of observations of 10,000 clients admitted to treatment from 1979 on. Their findings included the following:

* Three to five years following treatment fewer than 20 percent of clients in any type of program were regular users of any drug other than marijuana.

* Except with marijuana, abstinence rates averaged 40 to 50 percent. Improvement rates (for lessening drug use) were 70 to 80 percent, again with the exception of marijuana. And even with marijuana, the abstinence rate was about 20 percent and the improvement rate 40 percent.

* Three to five years after treatment, the proportion of clients involved in predatory crimes ranged from one-third to one-half of pre-treatment levels in all modalities [programs].

* The percentage of clients employed full-time registered gains in all modalities following treatment.

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