This article reports on the methodology and findings of an evaluation of Cook County's (Illinois) Reducing Risk: Outreach and Pretreatment for Probationers (PROPP) program, whose key component is treatment readiness groups (TRGs), which are designed to engage and retain adult probationers in substance abuse treatment.
The findings show that nearly three-fourths of the probationers who completed a baseline face-to-face interview with drug treatment staff participated in one or more TRG sessions. The interview asked clients to report information that pertained to their drug and alcohol use; family and living conditions; education, employment, and income; crime and criminal justice status; and mental and physical health problems and treatment. All questions pertained to the 30-day period prior to the interview. Participation in TRGs was in turn related positively to treatment entry, length of stay in first treatment episode, and completion of the first treatment episode. TRG participants were more likely than non-TRG clients to enter, stay in, and complete drug treatment. Nearly 85 percent of the TRG participants who completed a baseline interview also completed a follow-up interview at 6 months. Alcohol and illegal drug use fell among all participants on all substances, especially those who participated in treatment, who were less likely to use substances, and who used them for fewer days compared to probationers who did not participate in treatment. At follow-up, probationers reported reductions in substance-related emotional problems and disruptions in their lives, as well as reductions in criminal activity. This article also reports on lessons learned from the evaluation regarding how to improve evaluation methodology. PROPP was implemented between 2003 and 2008. 3 tables and 19 references
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