Purpose: This study was designed to evaluate the effects of methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) on severity of dependence, depression, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, health status, employment, and criminal activity among heroin abusers after 3 and 6 months of treatment, compared with baseline, in China.
Methods: A total of 102 methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) patients (87 men and 15 women; mean age, 36.1 years; standard deviation = 6.9) without major medical or psychiatric comorbidity participated in the experimental procedure. They were given oral methadone (maximum daily dose 80 mg, minimum daily dose 30 mg). Opioid use was assessed by twice-weekly urinalysis; HIV and HCV status were assessed by standard blood tests. Questionnaires were administered to assess blood-borne-virus risk behavior, severity of dependence, depression, health status, employment, and criminal activity. Changes over time were evaluated by 1-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) followed by post hoc t tests.
Results: Opioid use was reduced from 26.7 days per month at baseline to 0.7 and 0.0 days at 3 and 6 months, respectively. No participant seroconverted to HIV and HCV positivity during the 6 months of MMT. Health status significantly improved, as did severity of dependence, depression, and criminal activity, after 3 and 6 months MMT.
Conclusions: The results support the broad beneficial effects of MMT in China.