Agonist Maintenance Treatment

Agonist Maintenance Treatment for opiate addicts usually is conducted in outpatient settings, often called methadone treatment programs. These programs use a long-acting synthetic opiate medication, usually methadone or LAAM, administered orally for a sustained period at a dosage sufficient to prevent opiate withdrawal, block the effects of illicit opiate use, and decrease opiate craving. Patients stabilized on adequate, sustained dosages of methadone or LAAM can function normally. They can hold jobs, avoid the crime and violence of the street culture, and reduce their exposure to HIV by stopping or decreasing injection drug use and drug-related high-risk sexual behavior.

Patients stabilized on opiate agonists can engage more readily in counseling and other behavioral interventions essential to recovery and rehabilitation. The best, most effective opiate agonist maintenance programs include inpidual and/or group counseling, as well as provision of, or referral to, other needed medical, psychological, and social services.

Patients stabilized on adequate sustained dosages of methadone or LAAM can function normally.

Further Reading:


Ball, J.C., and Ross, A. The Effectiveness of Methadone Treatment. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1991.

Cooper, J.R. Ineffective use of psychoactive drugs; Methadone treatment is no exception. JAMA Jan 8; 267(2): 281-282, 1992.

Dole, V.P.; Nyswander, M.; and Kreek, M.J. Narcotic Blockade. Archives of Internal Medicine 118: 304-309, 1996.

Lowinson, J.H.; Payte, J.T.; Joseph, H.; Marion, I.J.; and Dole, V.P. Methadone Maintenance. In: Lowinson, J.H.; Ruiz, P.; Millman, R.B.; and Langrod, J.G., eds. Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook. Baltimore, MD, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 1996, pp. 405-414.

McLellan, A.T.; Arndt, I.O.; Metzger, D.S.; Woody, G.E.; and O'Brien, C.P. The effects of psychosocial services in substance abuse treatment. JAMA Apr 21; 269(15): 1953-1959, 1993.

Novick, D.M.; Joseph, J.; Croxson, T.S., et al. Absence of antibody to human immunodeficiency virus in long-term, socially rehabilitated methadone maintenance patients. Archives of Internal Medicine Jan; 150(1): 97-99, 1990.

Simpson, D.D.; Joe, G.W.; and Bracy, S.A. Six-year follow-up of opioid addicts after admission to treatment. Archives of General Psychiatry Nov; 39(11): 1318-1323, 1982.

Simpson, D.D. Treatment for drug abuse; Follow-up outcomes and length of time spent. Archives of General Psychiatry 38(8): 875-880, 1981.