Methadone maintenance in prison results in treatment retention, lower drug usage following release

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A new NIDA-funded study shows that, among people incarcerated for six months or less, those who received continued methadone maintenance while imprisoned were more likely to obtain follow up drug treatment  than those who underwent detoxification from methadone while in jail. The findings show that one month after release, participants who continued to receive doses of methadone while incarcerated were more than twice as likely to obtain treatment at a community methadone clinic after their release, compared to those who went through tapered methadone withdrawal. In addition, in the month following their release, opioid use was lower among the methadone maintenance patients (8 percent), versus the tapered withdrawal group (18 percent). Because of the high risk of relapse and fatal overdose that often occurs among inmates following release from prison, the study results emphasize the importance of connecting this population to follow-up treatment and retention.

To view the abstract of the article published in The Lancet, go to: To learn more about criminal justice and drug abuse, go to

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