Methadone has a number of benefits that extend from not only the person taking it but also society as a whole. Methadone decreases criminality with the overall reduction in convictions and cautions estimated to be at 10% for each six months enrolled in methadone maintenance therapy with patients in continuous treatment receiving the best outcomes.
Generally patients receiving a daily dose of 60 mg or more have better treatment outcomes than those receiving less than 60 mg in terms of: • Retention in treatment • Unsanctioned opioid use • Criminal activity
Methadone is also cost effective with evidence from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in America from 2018 revealing that every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return of between $4 and $7 in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice costs, and theft. When savings related to healthcare are included the total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12 to 1.
More local evidence from the 'Final Report of the National Ice Taskforce' in 2015 in Australia revealed that: • For every $1 invested in treatment services, more than $7 is returned to the community through health and social benefits. • For every $1 spent on needle and syringe exchange programs, the community saves $27 in future cost.
Thus in summary Methadone is a cost effect and effective treatment for opioid use disorder that has significant benefits to society as a whole.
Author: Dr Thileepan Naren MBBS FACRRM FRACGP
Thileepan is an Addiction Medicine Advanced Trainee and experienced general practitioner with a demonstrated history of working with disadvantaged and marginalized groups.