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Study on Methadone Treatment Effectiveness

Posted on :  May 9th, 2017  |  By :  towardsrecovery

As one of the most common forms of opioid substitute treatment today, it is not surprising that methadone treatment has become the subject of so many studies. This is why there is an abundance of evidence that would suggest that the treatment is capable of reducing drug-related deaths aside from improving the overall well-being and health of the addict. Let’s take a look at one of the studies that evaluated the methadone treatment in 2004.

Quantitative Study Method

In this aspect of the study, individuals that entered the methadone treatment program were monitored for a period of 18 months. A validated methadone treatment questionnaire was administered to 33 of the patients upon their entry into the treatment program. The same opiate treatment index was administered to 17 patients who remained in treatment after the 18-month period.

Self-reported data was collected based on the following domains:

  • Drug use;
  • HIV risk behaviors;
  • Social functioning;
  • Health status;
  • Criminality; and psychological adjustment.

Aside from social functioning, all other data collected referenced the behavior prior to the month of the interview. The social functioning data covered the period of 6 months before the interview. Every domain consisted of a number of questions with a number of choices for answers. Every answer in the option corresponded to a score. The lowest score indicated the lowest level of risk or the best experience.

Additional data was collected by the questionnaire to include the social situation and demographic of the patient. Based on collated answers, the study revealed the following:

  • There was an increase in the HIV-related risk behaviors instead of the drug-using behavior.
  • Substantial decrease in criminal behavior was observed with only one patient committing one of more crimes during the covered period.
  • Decreased social functioning scores were indications of improvements in the areas of employment, housing, and family relations.
  • Health status remained unchanged.
  • The scores for the psychological adjustment decreased, which translated to improved mental health.

It is vital to point out that the size of the sample was small and the mean score improvements were not statistically tested. However, this does not negate the positive outcomes that the study revealed in relation to the use of methadone maintenance therapy.

Qualitative Study Method

If methadone treatment questionnaire was used in the quantitative study method, in this method 3 focus groups were used to determine certain patient experiences in relation to treatment service providers.

Two groups received methadone maintenance treatment in a general practice setting. They were asked about the treatment along with continued risk behavior, impact of methadone on their lives, use of counseling, and their relationship with the service providers.

The other focus group was made up of the staff implementing the treatment program. The staff of the service providers were questioned on the positive and negative aspects of the treatments as they relate to the treatment outcomes and the pharmaceutical treatment options.

The following was determined from the focus groups:

  • Patients lauded the improvements in the treatment services after the methadone protocol was introduced. Specifically on the number of locations available, removal of financial charges, more services for less stable patients, and transfer to general practice setting of stable patients.
  • Transitioning between active drug use and the stabilization provided by the methadone treatment is the vulnerable time for addicts. The regular routine provided by the structured program gave patients the skills for potential future employment. Majority of the patients reported improvements in family relationships and decline in criminal activities.
  • The treatment is important for transitioning from active to no drug use. There were reservations on the long-term dependence on methadone and toleration of withdrawal symptoms during detoxification including potential relapse to heroin usage.
  • The high turnover rate of counsellors had a disruptive effect on the patients of the treatment centers, particularly in achieving stable lifestyles and coping with crises. Patients recognized the importance of monitoring of drug use why undergoing treatment.
  • Patients associated dental problems with the methadone treatment. Many of the patients had multiple dependence problems including prescribed drugs like hypnotics, tranquilizers, and benzodiazepines among others.

When you combine the results of both study methods, it would suggest that the methadone treatment program is successful in stabilizing heroin users and helping them achieve positive lifestyles.

Towards Recovery Clinics can help opiate dependents through a holistic approach to addressing their dependence. Call them!

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  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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