DISTRESS TOLERANCE AS A PREDICTOR OF EARLY TREATMENT DROPOUT IN A RESIDENTIAL SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT FACILITY

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2005-03-15

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Abstract

A large percentage of individuals entering residential treatment for substance abuse dropout of treatment early, often leading to subsequent relapse. Although a number of studies have investigated the predictors of treatment dropout, the particular characteristics that affect one's ability to cope with the initial stages of treatment and abstinence have not been addressed. As one line of research, the concept of distress tolerance, defined as one's ability to tolerate either psychological or physical distress, has been shown to be related to early lapse in abstinence attempts in illicit drug users, smokers, and gamblers. Although clearly applicable, the relationship between distress tolerance and early treatment dropout has yet to be examined. Thus, in the current study it was hypothesized that levels of distress tolerance would predict whether individuals dropout of treatment within 30 days. Specifically, 122 individuals entering a residential substance abuse treatment facility completed a battery of selfreport measures assessing characteristics previously demonstrating a relationship with residential substance abuse treatment dropout, namely demographic variables, mood variables, levels of psychopathology, substance-use severity, social support, and treatment readiness. Additionally, participants completed behavioral measures of psychological and physical distress tolerance. As hypothesized, logistic regression analyses indicated that psychological distress tolerance predicted early treatment dropout above and beyond relevant self-report variables. There was no relationship between physical distress tolerance and early treatment dropout. Implications for future studies and treatment development/modification are discussed.

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