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June 10, 1988

Methadone Maintenance Patients in General Medical PracticeA Preliminary Report

JAMA. 1988;259(22):3299-3302. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720220045024

Medical maintenance is the treatment by primary care physicians of rehabilitated methadone maintenance patients who are stable, employed, not abusing drugs, and not in need of supportive services. In this research project, physicians with experience in drug abuse treatment provided both the pharmacologic treatment of addiction as well as therapy for other medical problems, as needed. Decisions regarding treatment were based on the individual needs of the patient and on currently accepted medical practice rather than on explicit regulations. We studied the first 40 former heroin addicts who were transferred to this program from more conventional methadone clinics. At a follow-up visit at 12 to 55 months, 33 (82.5%) of 40 patients had remained in treatment; five (12.5%) had been discharged because of cocaine abuse and two (5%) had been voluntarily discharged. Personal benefits of medical maintenance include the dignity of a standard professional atmosphere and a more flexible reporting schedule. This program has the potential for improving treatment of selected methadone maintenance patients.

(JAMA 1988;259:3299-3302)