A recent report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University shows that a new intensive case management approach to help drug-addicted women on poverty provides better outcomes for sobriety and employment than the current employment-first approach. The new approach views addiction as a chronic disease vs. a temporary problem.
CASASARDSM – a program for drug-addicted mothers designed to get women engaged in treatment and employment services, help them become sober and successfully move to stable employment – compared its outcomes with the outcomes of women receiving standard care.
Compared to the women receiving standard care, the women that received CASASARD’sSM intensive case management approach received more time and services from their caseworkers; achieved rates 3 times as great of initiation, engagement and retention in outpatient substance abuse treatment; achieved significant reductions in substance use; were almost twice as likely to be completely abstinent at the 12 – 24 month follow-ups; and were more than twice as likely to be employed full-time at the end of 2 years.
These results could not only help addicted women get healthy and off welfare, but also reduce health and societal costs that plague our country. According to CASA, the economic benefit to society for each unemployed female welfare recipient with a substance use disorder that becomes substance-free and self-supporting is about $48,000 annually. That cost includes avoided welfare, health care and criminal justice costs, and a contribution to the economy in employment.
The CASA report also makes recommendations to states and the federal government that includes adopting a more intensive case management approach and supporting this approach through regulatory change and funding.
Clearly, a treatment first approach should be an option for any addicted woman on welfare if we want to help her live independently and contribute positively to society.