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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2010 Dec 1;112(3):209-15. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2010.06.009. Epub 2010 Aug 21.

Quality of life under maintenance treatment with heroin versus methadone in patients with opioid dependence.

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University Medical Centre Hamburg Eppendorf, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Martinistr. 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.



There is increasing evidence that health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is associated with a successful treatment and better outcome in opioid addiction. The aim of the present study was the longitudinal investigation of HRQOL in patients with severe opioid dependence, who were randomly assigned to four groups of medical and psychosocial treatment: heroin (diacetylmorphine) versus methadone and case management (CM) versus psychoeducation (PSE) respectively.


HRQOL (MSQoL) and physical health (OTI) were investigated in 938 subjects, who participated in the German multi-centre study examining the effects of heroin-assisted treatment in patients with severe opioid dependence. Data for the present analysis were taken from baseline and 12-month follow up.


Under both forms of maintenance and psychosocial treatment HRQOL improved significantly during the observation period. HRQOL improvement under maintenance with heroin exceeded improvement under methadone, especially with regard to subjective physical health. HRQOL improvement was significantly associated with better expert-rated physical health. Further analyses showed significant better improvement of HRQOL in subjects treated with PSE compared with CM.


The advantage of heroin with regard to the improvement of HRQOL may be partially explained by a better improvement of physical health under maintenance with heroin compared with methadone, which highlights the importance of a comprehensive model of health care for patients with severe opioid dependence. Future studies need to investigate the benefits of PSE for patients in maintenance therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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