Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Campbell, Todd C.

Second Advisor

Melchert, Timothy

Third Advisor

Brondino, Michael


The effectiveness and efficacy of substance abuse treatment is well established. At the same time, clients often prematurely drop out of substance abuse treatment, negatively impacting their chances of achieving favorable outcomes. Investigating variables associated with treatment retention has become increasingly important considering one of the most robust findings in substance abuse treatment outcome research is the positive relationship between the amount of time spent in treatment and post-treatment outcomes (e.g., decreased drug/alcohol use, decreased criminal activity, improved social functioning). This study examined the relationship between pre-treatment client characteristics and treatment drop-out among 273 adults who were admitted to intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment. An intake assessment battery was administered to all participants in an effort to gain a broad understanding of client attributes at the point of treatment entry. A series of regression analyses were used to investigate if client characteristics could help predict treatment completion status, time to drop-out, and number of treatment sessions attended. Results indicate that age and meeting criteria for an anxiety disorder were statistically significant predictors in all three regression analyses. Meeting criteria for a cocaine disorder was found to be a statistically significant predictor of treatment completion status and time to drop-out. Finally, number of years using alcohol regularly was found to be a statistically significant predictor of the number of treatment sessions attended. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed and recommendations to help improve client retention in the substance abuse treatment program utilized for this study are provided.