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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2006 May 20;82(3):187-93. Epub 2005 Oct 10.

Response to methadone maintenance treatment of opiate dependent patients with and without significant pain.

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Center for Health Care Evaluation, Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University School of Medicine, 795 Willow Road (MPD 152), Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA.



Both clinicians and researchers have expressed doubt that opiate dependent patients with significant pain can be effectively treated in methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) programs; however, little research exists on this topic. Patients who report significant pain in the month preceding entry to MMT present with a distinct and more severe pattern of polysubstance use, medical and psychosocial problems than do those without pain. The present study investigated the 1-year treatment outcomes of MMT patients with opiate dependence and pain.


Analyses were based on a national sample of 200 patients presenting in MMT programs for treatment of opiate dependence. Substance use and related problems were measured at treatment entry and 12 months later. Patients reported pain severity over the month preceding treatment entry.


Compared to patients without significant pain, patients who reported significant pain at baseline (n = 103) showed similar substance-related functioning, but poorer psychosocial functioning at 1 year.


Patients with and without significant pain experience comparable reductions in substance use when provided with standard care in MMT programs. However, additional medical and/or mental health treatment is needed for their pain and other problems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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