Comparing addiction treatment outcomes across different care providers and approaches might seem like an apples-to-apples assessment, but it's not. For the most part, the addiction treatment field lacks consistently reported—and, in some cases, scientifically valid—ways of measuring the impact of treatment services. Where does that leave you as a consumer in seeking the most effective treatment for alcohol or other drug addiction? It is important to keep several questions in mind. How are addiction treatment outcomes measured? With diabetes, hypertension and most other chronic illnesses, the impact of treatment services can be measured through the patient's blood sugar readings, lipid levels or other physiological factors indicating change, healing and improvement. That's not the case with addiction treatment. There aren't clear-cut physiological indicators or lab tests that demonstrate whether the disease is subsiding or the patient is healing. Instead, addiction treatment outcomes can be assessed across a variety of clinical, quality of life and behavioral domains. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation measures and reports treatment outcomes based on patient follow-up data relating to length of sobriety, quality of life and aftercare compliance. At multiple intervals following treatment, Butler Center for Research staff at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation collect patient data related to a variety of factors, including: Number of days continually abstinent Physical health Mental health Quality of relationships Level of functioning in career/job/school Quality of social life Compliance with after-care recommendations Additional healthcare service utilization What percentage of patients get better? Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation data indicate that 8 out of 10 of our patients experience dramatic improvements—with more than half of our patients maintaining continuous abstinence for at least one year upon completion of their treatment program with us. Our research also indicates that 80% of patients report improved family relationships, better mental health, and an enhanced ability to manage life's problems and challenges after treatment at one of our locations. How can I tell if a provider's treatment outcomes are credible? Numbers and percentages may appear impressive, but be wary of "success rate" claims. Always ask about the data behind such statements. For example, if a provider claims a "96% success rate," ask: What and who are you measuring? How are you defining "success"—length of abstinence, other indicators? How was the data collected? Over what time period? How many patients are you surveying? What type of program did patients participate in? Are there standardized outcomes I can reference? Not at this time, unfortunately. But soon. Given the lack of consistently reported, scientifically valid addiction treatment outcomes data across the field, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation recently joined forces with eight other leading treatment providers to develop a standard framework for patient outcomes data gathering and reporting. In the pilot program currently underway, participating treatment providers are using the same patient survey tool to measure the same treatment outcomes data in the same way. This important initiative will ultimately provide consumers with credible treatment outcomes data to consider in comparing and choosing programs and services. Our Patient Outcomes The Butler Center for Research collects, reviews and analyzes addiction treatment outcomes. Learn more.