Seven Factors that Impact the Retention Rate of Addiction Treatment for Women

Many drug and alcohol recovery programs monitor the habits of people who come in and out of their programs.  One of the things that they look into are the factors that impact the quantity of treatment a person receives or their retention rate.  This retention rate says a lot about the demographic that the information is gathered from.  According to recent research, there are a number of factors that indicate how long patients in recovery will commit to a program that offers addiction treatment for women.  While there is no indication that these factors come with hard and fast rules about how long a woman will stay in treatment, they can be good indicators.

Socioeconomic Status

Women who come from environments where drug use is the norm and violence goes unchecked are less likely to complete recovery programs.  If a program is completed, these women are less likely to continue to stay clean after their treatment as well.  The retention of women who come from high poverty level and low education level backgrounds have a much lower retention rate and a much higher relapse rate.  Aftercare seems to be essential to keeping these women clean and sober.


Women who graduated from high school are more likely to complete a recovery program than women who did not finish high school.  The education factor can be highly subjective.  Not graduating from high school can be an indication of socioeconomic status which is mentioned above as a factor unto itself.


If a woman has the support of her partner, the rest of her family, and her friends, she is more likely to stay in a recovery program for a longer amount of time.  Some studies have indicated that including the patient’s partner in treatment can help the patient feel more involved in her treatment and want to make more of an effort to stay longer.  Family therapy can also have the same effect.

Gender of Treatment Center Staff

Women show a much greater preference for having a staff comprised of mostly women.  There has been little study in the field of substance abuse into whether the gender of the staff effects the retention of the patients.  Studies have indicated that recovery patients largely prefer female counselors and that women with children or pregnant women in recovery prefer to have female staff members around.  Not enough study has been done in this area to put a number on the retention rates, but it does seem to be a factor that could require some study.


Retention rates for women in recovery who are pregnant tend to be rather low.  Pregnancy can significantly impact treatment depending upon where a woman is in her pregnancy when she enters treatment.  Often, the birth of the baby will interrupt the flow of treatment and a woman will not come back to it as she has a newborn to deal with or she was unprepared for life away from the treatment program and has quickly slipped back into addiction.  Studies indicate that women who seek treatment in their first trimester have low retention rates, but if a women in late pregnancy can complete a program before she gives birth, she is likely to stay clean and sober for longer.

Referral or Involvement of the Law

Patients who have been referred by, or are involved with child protective services or the criminal justice system in any way are more likely to stay in addiction treatment for women for a longer period of time.  While there is much evidence that mandating a woman to seek recovery treatment is not particularly effective, overall, these women are more likely to stay in treatment for longer than their counterparts who entered voluntarily.

Therapy Type

Women in recovery have been shown to benefit more from supportive therapy methods rather than confrontational therapy methods.  Studies have indicated that women are more receptive to positive treatment methods that encourage empathy, warmth, and the ability to stay connected with their support network both outside of the program and inside of the program.  For women, generally, the relationship with the therapist or counselor should be one of compassion and mutual respect in order to keep the patient in the program.  If she feels threatened or the confrontational therapy method is too much, she is very likely to leave the program.

What to Expect in a Dual Diagnosis Halfway House

Once you have completed your formal rehab experience, you have a choice to make.  You can try to do it on your own and move on to living a life completely reintegrated into regular society, or you can go on to a halfway house.  If you have been diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder, it is a good idea to explore your halfway house options so that you make sure your mental health is in check as well as your addiction recovery before you go back to being completely on your own. Dual diagnosis halfway house living is designed to help you work toward being self-sufficient.  While every situation is going to be different, there are some universal things that you can expect from a sober living situation.

Abstinence from Substances of Abuse

Clearly, a halfway house is designed to be a sober living community.  It is possible that you have been prescribed some kind of medication for your mental illnesses by your doctors, but these are the only kinds of substances that you should be taking while you are in a halfway house.  It is likely that your medication will be controlled at least for a while.  Any of the kinds of illicit substances are forbidden and, if found, can cause you to be ejected from the halfway house.  You are expected to remain free from addiction as long as you remain in the halfway house.

Participation in Aftercare

In most halfway houses, particularly those for people who have been dually diagnosed, residents will be expected to participate in aftercare.  There are lots of kinds of aftercare.  Some halfway houses will require that you go to twelve step meetings between once a week and twice a day.  Others will require you to make and keep appointments with your therapist regularly to keep up on your mental health and to keep sight of your sobriety goals.  You may have regular house group therapy sessions that you are required to participate in as well.  The goal of a dual diagnosis halfway house is to help you adequately deal with both your former addiction and your mental illness.

Staying Busy With Work and Other Responsibilities

In some halfway houses, it may not be a requirement that you work, but it is a good idea either way.  While you are in a halfway house, you should and may be required to work, volunteer, or further your education in some way.  This is the perfect opportunity for you to start working your way back into the world.  Take some time while you are near the end of your formal rehab or when you first go to the halfway house to think about what you want to do with the rest of your life.  When you have figured out what you want to do or have an idea about what you might like to do, talk to your therapist about it and make a plan for making it happen.  Your program might be able to offer you some assistance with getting a job or finding a volunteer opportunity that will further your goals and help get you where you want to be.  Asking your program for help could be a boost especially if your mental illness limits your abilities in some ways.


A halfway house is not a free ride.  You will be required to share in the household duties such as cooking and cleaning.  You will always be responsible for keeping your personal space and your personal belongings clean and tidy.  You will be expected to clean up after yourself as well.  Some halfway houses will have a rotating list of household chores to be done each week.  There will always be something for you to do to be responsible for the smooth function of the home.

Be Accountable

At least in the beginning, you will likely need to sign in and out of the house and give facility staff an account of your whereabouts.  You will be expected to go where you say you are going and return when you are expected to return.  If you cannot be accounted for, your facility will likely put out the alert and someone will come looking for you.  They want to be sure that you are safe and that you are not having a problem related to your addiction or your mental illness.  If you are found to be fine and simply late, there will likely be some consequences related to your continued stay in the halfway house.