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Altern Ther Health Med. 1997 Jul;3(4):57-66.

Comparing Hatha yoga with dynamic group psychotherapy for enhancing methadone maintenance treatment: a randomized clinical trial.

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Division on Addictions, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



As more methadone treatment programs are funded in an attempt to curb substance abuse and HIV infection among i.v. drug users, more cost effective treatment approaches are being sought.


To investigate whether clients in outpatient methadone maintenance treatment who practice weekly Hatha yoga in a group setting experience more favorable treatment outcomes than those who receive conventional group psychodynamic therapy.


After a 5-day assessment period, 61 patients were randomly assigned to methadone maintenance enhanced by traditional group psychotherapy (ie, conventional methadone treatment) or an alternative Hatha yoga therapy (ie, alternative methadone treatment). Patients were followed for 6 months and evaluated on a variety of psychological, sociological, and biological measures. The revised Symptom Check List provided the primary psychological measures; the Addiction Severity Index provided various indices of addictive behaviors.


The evidence revealed that there were no meaningful differences between traditional psychodynamic group therapy and Hatha yoga presented in a group setting. Both treatments contributed to a treatment regimen that significantly reduced drug use and criminal activities. Psychopathology at admission was significantly related to program participation regardless of treatment group.


In addition to examining the characteristics of patients who present for treatment, this study identifies unexpected staff issues that complicate the integration of alternative and traditional treatment strategies.


Alternative methadone treatment is not more effective than conventional methadone treatment, as originally hypothesized. However, some patients may benefit more from alternative methadone treatment than conventional methadone treatment. Additional research is necessary to determine characteristics that identify patients who might benefit from alternative methadone treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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