The chronic nature of substance use disorder requires continuity of care after residential treatment. Only a small proportion of patients, however, adhere to aftercare follow-up plans and the relapse rates remain between 40- 80% within a year post-discharge. Synthesis of evidence showed that facilitated referral (FR) significantly increased follow- up adherence and resulted to positive outcomes. The study aimed to examine the effectiveness of FR in improving access, follow-up adherence and engagement to aftercare services, and relapse rate after a month post- discharge.
After the Institutional Review Board approval, 30 participants were recruited in two residential treatment facilities. Questionnaires, the Assessment of Warning Signs of Relapse and Health leads surveys were utilized to collect data. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, McNemar, and Wilcoxon signed rank tests. Results showed that FR significantly increased access to many community aftercare services (p<.05). A significant reduction in relapse risk post-intervention was also noted (Z= -3.180, p= .001). Additionally, most participants discharged with scheduled appointments followed-up and had continued engagement with aftercare services. Eight participants maintained sobriety and 18 were lost to follow-up a month post-discharge, while four relapsed in the facility.
Overall, FR increased access to needed aftercare services and significantly decreased the relapse percentage risk post-discharge. FR is a promising intervention that can be implemented for practice. Future research is recommended to further examine the correlation with follow-up adherence and continuous engagement to aftercare services, and relapse rate at 30 days after discharge.