Drug Abuse:

Studies Show Treatment Is Effective, but Benefits May Be Overstated

T-HEHS-98-185: Published: Jul 22, 1998. Publicly Released: Jul 22, 1998.

Additional Materials:


Bernice Steinhardt
(202) 512-3000


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed its recent report on drug abuse treatment research findings, focusing on: (1) the overall effectiveness of drug abuse treatment; (2) the methodological issues affecting drug abuse treatment evaluations; and (3) what is known about the effectiveness of specific treatments for heroin, cocaine, and adolescent drug addiction.

GAO noted that: (1) it found that large, multisite, longitudinal studies have produced considerable evidence that drug abuse treatment is beneficial to the individual undergoing treatment and to society; (2) the studies have consistently found that a substantial proportion of clients being studied report reductions in drug use and criminal activity following treatment; (3) the studies also show that clients who stay in treatment for longer periods report better outcomes; (4) however, drug abuse treatment research is complicated by a number of methodological challenges that make it difficult to accurately measure the extent to which treatment reduces drug use; (5) in particular, growing concerns about the validity of self-reported data, which are used routinely in the major evaluations of drug abuse treatment, suggest that the treatment benefit reported by these studies may be somewhat overstated; (6) in addition, the research evidence to support the relative effectiveness of specific treatment approaches or settings for particular groups of drug abusers is limited; and (7) while one specific treatment approach--methadone maintenance--has been shown to be the most effective treatment for heroin addiction, research on the best treatment approach or setting for cocaine addiction or adolescent drug users is less definitive.

Dec 1, 2020

Nov 30, 2020

Nov 18, 2020

Nov 17, 2020

Nov 13, 2020

Nov 12, 2020

Nov 4, 2020

Oct 26, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here