Past research on the efficacy of methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) as a treatment for opiate addiction has generally been very encouraging, but the literature shows that effectiveness varies from study to study (ie, clinic to clinic). Additionally, researchers challenge the adequacy of 2 commonly used outcome criteria, treatment retention, and heroin use. Retention as a criterion has been called into question as it is a very indirect measure of success, and research that focuses on a reduction in heroin use may not be generalizable to Canadian opiate addicts, who are more typically characterized by prescription drug abuse. The current study addresses these past limitations.
Findings indicate significant positive changes in self-reported emotional and behavioural functioning on a number of relevant variables; changes often occurred regardless of the number of months in the program or whether the patients had a stabilized or a non-stabilized categorization, though stabilized patients demonstrated greater changes than non-stabilized patients.
All subjects benefited just from being in the program: those in the group categorized as stable benefited the most.