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Dave & Dujanovic: How often do people leave treatment centers??

Law enforcement officers investigate a shooting outside the Salt Lake County Jail in South Salt Lake on Saturday, April 10, 2021. Two sheriff's deputies were shot and the suspected gunman was killed. Photo: Annie Barker, Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY — About 1 in 4 people who enter Utah rehab centers walk out without getting treatment. 

Joshua Michael Johnson, 31, was shot and killed after officials say he pulled a gun and fired on Deputy Leland Grossett and Deputy Joshua Buerke. Both deputies suffered injuries in the firefight Saturday on the campus of the Salt Lake County Metro Jail.

On the same day that Johnson entered a residential treatment facility, police say he walked away, according to Deseret News.

Treatment centers: Why so many go AWOL

Christina Zidow, COO of Odyssey House, talked to Dave and Dujanovic about how often people in treatment centers leave.

Due to federal privacy rules, Zidow could not speak about the Johnson shooting case or its connection to Odyssey House.

“How often do people in treatment walk away from a treatment center such as yours?” Debbie asked.

“Within Odyssey House, our statistics are about 25% of individuals who walk away, but in the national context you often see rates for long-term residential [treatment] at about 60% of people walking away,” Zidow said.

That means 75% of people in treatment centers in Utah choose to stay and receive the care they need. Furthermore, those who stay in treatment break, at least for a time, the cycle of crime and incarceration, she said.

No locked doors

She said a resident averages seven attempts in treatment before he or she stays  long enough to begin to do the necessary work to establish recovery.

“For those that have left the criminal justice system, are they allowed to just walk away?” Dave asked.

“What is common within our agency and our sister agencies is that the treatment residential treatment level of care does not involve a locked door,” Zidow said. “While the individual is able to physically leave the treatment space, there would be a reporting to Adult Probation and Parole and other legal contacts.”

Who’s paying?

“There are so many questions that we have about this, Christina. One of the questions I think a lot of people listening would have and I’ve often had is, who’s paying for this treatment?” Debbie asked.

“For many of the individuals who are engaged the criminal justice system and also in need of medical care, many of those individuals have Medicaid coverage,” Zidow said.

She added Utah taxpayers do pay a minimal amount, but the federal government bears the majority of that cost.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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