Barriers and facilitators to successful transition from long-term residential substance abuse treatment

Jennifer I. Manuel, Yeqing Yuan, Daniel B. Herman, Dace S. Svikis, Obie Nichols, Erin Palmer, Sherry Deren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although residential substance abuse treatment has been shown to improve substance use and other outcomes, relapse is common. This qualitative study explores factors that hinder and help individuals during the transition from long-term residential substance abuse treatment to the community. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 32 individuals from residential substance abuse treatment. Based on the socio-ecological model, barriers and facilitators to transition were identified across five levels: individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and policy. The major results indicate that primary areas of intervention needed to improve outcomes for these high-risk individuals include access to stable housing and employment, aftercare services and positive support networks; expanded discharge planning services and transitional assistance; and funding to address gaps in service delivery and to meet individuals’ basic needs. This study contributes to the literature by identifying transition barriers and facilitators from the perspectives of individuals in residential treatment, and by using the socio-ecological model to understand the complexity of this transition at multiple levels. Findings identify potential targets for enhanced support post-discharge from residential treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-22
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Care transitions
  • Continuing care
  • Residential treatment
  • Socio-ecological model
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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