Patterns of illicit drug use and retention in a methadone program: A longitudinal study

Ingrid Davstad, MA, Marlene Stenbacka, PhD, Anders Leifman, MSE, Olof Beck, PhD, Seher Korkmaz, MD, PhD, Anders Romelsjo, MD, PhD

Abstract


Objective: This study aimed to analyze illicit drug use of participants in a methadone treatment program in relation to methadone dose, counseling, and retention.
Methods: This was a longitudinal study of a cohort of 204 heroin-dependent subjects admitted for the first time to a methadone program in Stockholm. The patients were admitted between 1995 and mid-2000 and were followed until December 2000 or discharge. Up to June 11, 1998, individual psychosocial counseling was provided; after this date individual counseling was replaced with group counseling. Clinical data were collected from patient records and from a laboratory database. Rates of drugpositive urine analyses during different time periods were measured.
Results: The mean observation time was 2.5 years for all patients. The one-year retention rate was 84 percent, and the two-year rate was 65 percent, with no major differences between the two counseling groups. Almost all patients relapsed to illicit drug use. Discharged patients had a significantly higher rate of positive urine samples (21 percent versus 9 percent) than patients who remained in treatment. Also, low methadone dose and younger age predicted discharge from treatment.
Conclusion: The frequent urine monitoring showed that illicit drug use was rather common, even in a program with structured psychosocial interventions, although it was lower than in other studies. This testing policy can be used for early identification of patients at risk for drop-out or discharge who should be offered complementary interventions.


Keywords


methadone maintenance treatment, urine samples, drug abuse patterns, discharge, drug abuse, methadone dose

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/jom.2007.0036

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