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The Effect of Methadone Maintenance on Illicit Opioid Use, Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Hepatitis C Virus Infection, Health Status, Employment, and Criminal Activity Among Heroin Abusers During 6 Months of Treatment in China

Shi, Jie MD, PhD; Zhao, Li-Yan MD; Epstein, David H. PhD; Zhao, Chengzheng BA; Shuai, Yinliang MD; Yan, Bin MD; Jin, Jun MD; Lu, Lin MD, PhD

Journal of Addiction Medicine: December 2007 - Volume 1 - Issue 4 - p 186-190
doi: 10.1097/ADM.0b013e318156cc19
Original Article

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.

From the Departments of Clinical Pharmacology (JS, CZ) and Neuropharmacology (LYZ, LL), National Institute on Drug Dependence, Peking University, Beijing, China; Intramural Research Program (DHE), National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD; and Beijing Ankang Hospital (YS, BY, JJ), Beijing, China.

Received March 19, 2007; revised July 21, 2007; accepted July 23, 2007.

Send correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Lin Lu, National Institute on Drug Dependence, Peking University, 38 Xueyuan Road, Beijing China. e-mail:

This work was supported in part by the WHO Collaborative Study on Substitution Treatment of Opioid Dependence & HIV/AIDS, the New Century Talent Scientist Grant of Ministry of Education, the National Basic Research Program of China (No: 20003CB 515400), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No: 30570576 and 30670713).

© 2007 American Society of Addiction Medicine