Role of maintenance treatment in opioid dependence

Jeff Ward, Wayne Hall*, Richard P. Mattick

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    383 Citations (Scopus)


    Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) involves the daily administration of the oral opioid agonist methadone as a treatment for opioid dependence - a persistent disorder with a substantial risk of premature death. MMT improves health and reduces illicit heroin use, infectious-disease transmission, and overdose death. However, its effectiveness is compromised if low maintenance doses of methadone (< 60 mg) are used and patients are pressured to become prematurely abstinent from methadone. Pregnancy and psychiatric comorbidity are not contraindications for MMT. As an alternative to MMT, other oral opioid agents leg, naltrexone, buprenorphine) may increase patient choice and avoid some of the more unpleasant aspects of MMT. The public-health challenge for the future is to develop and continue to deliver safe and effective forms of opioid maintenance treatment to as many opioid-dependent individuals as can benefit from them.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)221-226
    Number of pages6
    JournalThe Lancet
    Issue number9148
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 1999


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