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J Subst Abuse Treat. 2012 Oct;43(3):276-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2011.12.008. Epub 2012 Feb 1.

Addiction treatment-related employment barriers: the impact of methadone maintenance.

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British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Employment is commonly upheld as an important outcome of addiction treatment. To explore this attribution, we assessed whether treatment enrollment predicts employment initiation among participants enrolled in a community-recruited Canadian cohort of people who inject drugs (IDU; N = 1,579). Survival analysis initially found no association between addiction treatment enrollment and employment initiation. However, when methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) was separated from other treatment modalities, non-MMT treatment positively predicted employment transitions, whereas MMT was negatively associated with employment initiation. Subanalyses examining transitions into temporary, informal, and under-the-table income generation echo these results. Findings suggest that individual factors impacting employment transitions may systematically apply to MMT clients and that, in this setting, the impact of treatment on employment outcomes is contingent on treatment type and design. Treatment-specific differences underscore the need to expand low-threshold MMT, explore MMT alternatives, and evaluate the impact of treatment design on the social and economic activity of IDU.

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