Treatment Programs for Substance Use Disorder


Project Status:
Project Line:
Health Technology Review
Project Sub Line:
Summary with Critical Appraisal
Project Number:


1. What is the comparative clinical effectiveness of inpatient treatment programs versus outpatient treatment programs for SUD? 2. What is the clinical effectiveness of treatment programs for the treatment of SUD? 3. What are the evidence-based guidelines regarding treatment programs for individuals with SUD?

Key Message

Moderate to weak evidence suggests that patients with substance use disorders who received residential treatment were more likely than outpatients to complete treatment and be considered abstinent. Comparisons between residential treatment and outpatient programs for other outcomes were unclear. Strong- to weak-quality evidence showed that residential treatment services for patients with substance use disorders was effective in improving various outcomes including substance use, social, criminal activity, and mental health outcomes. However, residential treatment was likely associated with poorest survival outcomes after discharge compared to other treatments.Managed alcohol programs in hospital settings appeared to be effective and safe in preventing and treating alcohol withdrawal syndrome in surgical patients, trauma patients, or hospitalized patients. The level of evidence was not assessed.There was evidence that managed alcohol programs in community settings improved drinking patterns, alcohol-related harm, criminal activity, mental health, and social and physical well-being. The level of evidence was not assessed.The American Society of Addiction Medicine clinical practice guideline provides recommendations for the identification and management of alcohol withdrawal in inpatient and ambulatory settings. Patients’ current signs and symptoms, levels of risk for developing severe or complicated withdrawal or complications of withdrawal, and other dimensions should be taken into consideration in the assessment process to determine the appropriate level of care. Strength of recommendations was not assessed.The Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health recommends that patients with cannabis use disorder should be considered for residential treatment if they are unable to effectively reduce or cease their cannabis use (level of evidence: Low; strength of recommendation: Strong).