Surveys suggest that UK drug services under-prescribe methadone to opiate-dependent patients. This study investigated methadone prescribing for 169 patients on long-term methadone at a specialist drug service.
The mean methadone dose for patients on maintenance was 65.8 mg, and 67.7% were taking 50 mg or more. Mean doses in relation to methadone formulation varied substantially: mixture 57.4 mg, tablets 81.8 mg and ampoules 113.0 mg. These figures are higher than those reported from national surveys. The proportion of urine screens positive for illicit opiates was inversely related both to methadone dose and length of time in treatment.
This survey shows the levels of methadone prescribing at an inner-city drug service and gives support to the effectiveness of high-dose methadone maintenance.
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