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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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Friends Research Institute, Inc, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.



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.


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.


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


A methadone treatment program in Baltimore.


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


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.


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).


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.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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