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Subst Use Misuse. 2005;40(12):1875-82.

Users' experiences of heroin and methadone treatment.

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  • 1Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.


The present study, conducted in 2003, Melbourne, Australia, examined and compared how different personal and social resources related to participants' use of both heroin and methadone, as well as their experiences of stigma and program regulation, and their evaluation of methadone treatment. In-depth interviews were conducted with 10 participants (five men, five women) aged between 25 and 42. Participants who had diverse personal and social circumstances were purposefully sought. Findings showed that users with "non-addict" or "functional" self-concepts had more resources and supportive social relationships that assisted them to develop realistic treatment expectations, avoid the stigma associated with methadone, and focus on the benefits of the treatment. Conversely, "conflicted" users with limited resources, few social connections, and negative self-concept saw methadone as an addiction, and as a highly stigmatizing and disempowering intervention. Social policies that differentiate users and address ways of improving users' personal and social resources are now needed.

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