ArticlesMethadone Maintenance Programs-A Two-Edged Sword?Green, H. B. Med. Sci; James, R. A. M.B., B.S; Gilbert, J. D. M.B., B.S; Harpas, P. B. Ap. Sci; Byard, R. W. M.DAuthor Information From the Forensic Science Centre, Adelaide, South Australia. Manuscript received December 22, 1999; accepted February 18, 2000. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Roger W. Byard, Forensic Science Centre, 21 Divett Place, Adelaide 5000, Australia; Email: [email protected]. The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: December 2000 - Volume 21 - Issue 4 - p 359-361 Buy Abstract Retrospective review was undertaken of all autopsies in which methadone was detected at the Forensic Science Centre, South Australia, during a 3-year period from July 1996 to June 1999. Thirty-five cases were found in which methadone had either caused or contributed to death (age range = 14-54 years; average = 31 years; M:F = 3.4:1). Ten victims were participating in a methadone maintenance program, of whom four died within a week of enrollment. Eight victims (23%) not enrolled in a methadone maintenance program were found who had died after the use of "diverted" methadone (i.e., prescribed for someone else) (age range = 14-34 years; average = 25 years; M:F = 6:2). Deaths were directly attributable to methadone toxicity in seven of the eight cases, with additional drugs or alcohol being found in seven cases. Prevention of ongoing deaths caused by methadone diversion could be achieved by allowing only daily releases of methadone, with the addict having to consume the drug under close supervision. © 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.