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Qual Health Res. 2012 Jun;22(6):810-24. doi: 10.1177/1049732311432718. Epub 2012 Jan 9.

Methadone as social control: institutionalized stigma and the prospect of recovery.

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1
School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Abstract

Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) is an intervention used to treat opioid (heroin) dependence. Several investigators have found that MMT is effective in reducing heroin use and other behaviors; however, a disproportionate number of MMT clients leave treatment prematurely. Moreover, MMT outcome variables are often limited in terms of their measurement. Utilizing an integrated theoretical framework of social control and stigma, we focused on the experiences of methadone maintenance from the perspective of clients. We pooled interview data from four qualitative studies in two jurisdictions and found linkages between social control and institutional stigma that serve to reinforce "addict" identities, expose undeserving customers to the public gaze, and encourage clients to be passive recipients of treatment. We discuss the implications for recovery and suggest recommendations for change.

PMID:
22232295
DOI:
10.1177/1049732311432718
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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