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J Subst Abuse Treat. 2009 Oct;37(3):277-85. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2009.03.002. Epub 2009 Mar 31.

A randomized clinical trial of methadone maintenance for prisoners: results at 12 months postrelease.

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Social Research Center, Friends Research Institute, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


This study examined the impact of prison-initiated methadone maintenance at 12 months postrelease. Males with pre-incarceration heroin dependence (N = 204) were randomly assigned to (a) Counseling Only: counseling in prison, with passive referral to treatment upon release; (b) Counseling + Transfer: counseling in prison with transfer to methadone maintenance treatment upon release; and (c) Counseling + Methadone: counseling and methadone maintenance in prison, continued in the community upon release. The mean number of days in community-based drug abuse treatment were, respectively, Counseling Only, 23.1; Counseling + Transfer, 91.3; and Counseling + Methadone, 166.0 (p < .01); all pairwise comparisons were statistically significant (all ps < .01). Counseling + Methadone participants were also significantly less likely than participants in each of the other two groups to be opioid-positive or cocaine-positive according to urine drug testing. These results support the effectiveness of prison-initiated methadone for males in the United States. Further study is required to confirm the findings for women.

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