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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006 Jan;63(1):102-9.

A randomized controlled trial of interim methadone maintenance.

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  • 1Friends Research Institute, Inc, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA. rschwartz@friendssocialresearch.org

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Effective alternatives to long waiting lists for entry into methadone hydrochloride maintenance treatment are needed to reduce the complications of continuing heroin dependence and to increase methadone treatment entry.

OBJECTIVE:

To compare the effectiveness of interim methadone maintenance with that of the usual waiting list condition in facilitating methadone treatment entry and reducing heroin and cocaine use and criminal behavior.

DESIGN:

Randomized, controlled, clinical trial using 2 conditions, with treatment assignment on a 3:2 basis to interim maintenance-waiting list control.

SETTING:

A methadone treatment program in Baltimore.

PARTICIPANTS:

A total of 319 individuals meeting the criteria for current heroin dependence and methadone maintenance treatment.

INTERVENTIONS:

Participants were randomly assigned to either interim methadone maintenance, consisting of an individually determined methadone dose and emergency counseling only for up to 120 days, or referral to community-based methadone treatment programs.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Entry into comprehensive methadone maintenance therapy at 4 months from baseline; self-reported days of heroin use, cocaine use, and criminal behavior; and number of urine drug test results positive for heroin and cocaine at the follow-up interview conducted at time of entry into comprehensive methadone treatment (or at 4 months from baseline for participants who did not enter regular treatment).

RESULTS:

Significantly more participants assigned to the interim methadone maintenance condition entered comprehensive methadone maintenance treatment by the 120th day from baseline (75.9%) than those assigned to the waiting list control condition (20.8%) (P<.001). Overall, in the past 30 days at follow-up, interim participants reported significantly fewer days of heroin use (P<.001), had a significant reduction in heroin-positive drug test results (P<.001), reported spending less money on drugs (P<.001), and received less illegal income (P<.02) than the waiting list participants.

CONCLUSION:

Interim methadone maintenance results in a substantial increase in the likelihood of entry into comprehensive treatment, and is an effective means of reducing heroin use and criminal behavior among opioid-dependent individuals awaiting entry into a comprehensive methadone treatment program.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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