The Stunning Correlation Between Length of Stay and One-Year Abstinence Rates

The Stunning Correlation Between Length of Stay and One-Year Abstinence Rates

Joanna Conti
Originally Posted:


Treatment professionals have been anecdotally aware that the longer a patient remains in treatment, the more likely they are to recover. With one-year post-treatment outcomes data on over 13,000 SUD patients, Vista can now confirm the tremendous impact length of stay has on recovery rates:

The Stunning Correlation Between Length of Stay and One Year Abstinence Rates


On average, 36% of patients reported having been abstinent for at least the last 30 days one year after leaving treatment. Patients who remain in treatment for about 30 days have substantially higher abstinent rates than those who left treatment in only 7 to 20 days. Recovery success increases even more for those patients in treatment for more than 90 days – their 46% one year abstinence rate is almost twice the rate of patients who spent between 7 and 20 days in treatment.

This pattern is seen not only in those reporting being abstinent for at least the previous 30 days but also for those who remained abstinent since treatment. Less than 15% of those in treatment for twenty days or less reported avoiding all drugs and alcohol for the full twelve months compared to almost 32% who were in treatment for greater than 90 days.

It’s important to note that these results don’t indicate that patients must remain in residential treatment for this period of time. Most of the centers in the Vista Research Network utilize a continuum of care model with patients stepping down to less-intensive levels of treatment over time.

Unfortunately, these findings fly in the face of the ever-shorter treatment periods being authorized by many payers. So what can a treatment center that is passionately committed to helping patients recover do? Here are some ideas.


  • Get Upfront Commitments to Complete All Levels of Care:  Share this data showing how important length of stay is with patients and their families at the start of treatment.   If possible, get their commitment to remain in treatment through all levels of care to help ensure this will be the last episode of treatment they will ever need.


  • Negotiate Bundled-Payment Contracts That Allow Your Team to Set Length of Stay:   Finally, consider negotiating a bundled-payment contract with one or more of your primary payers akin to the agreement that the Caron Foundation has with Independence Blue Cross. In order to help treatment centers with excellent success rates negotiate these types of agreements, the non-profit Conquer Addiction (Vista’s sister organization) is raising funds for an in-depth analysis of claims data.
How useful or informative was this information?
Average: 5 (2 votes)

Stay informed about the latest treatment-related research findings
Receive Treatment Insights every other Thursday in your inbox

Get your free subscription