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The San Francisco Centalized Intake Unit: A Description of Participants and Service Episodes


Using client data from the publicly-funded drug abuse treatment system in San Francisco, California, this study compared demographic characteristics of clients of a central intake unit (CIU) to those of clients who did not access the CIU, and examined characteristics of CIU episodes. The San Francisco CIU was intended to make appropriate referrals of CIU clients to treatment programs, and 47.9% of these episodes were followed by a subsequent treatment episode within 90-days of admission to the CIU. Of all individuals in the treatment system, a quarter had been to the CIU and as many as 9% of all treatment episodes were at the CIU. The majority of CIU episodes were short, consistent with the nature of assessment and referral services. These data suggest that incorporating strategies to enhance admissions to post-CIU services could increase CIU impacts. The post-CIU admission patterns were consistent with greater availability of outpatient and day treatment slots in the system. The pre-CIU admission patterns suggested that treatment agencies in the system used the CIU as a means to transition their clients into additional or longer-term treatment.

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