Methadone patients and alcohol abuse

J Subst Abuse Treat. 1999 Mar;16(2):113-21. doi: 10.1016/s0740-5472(98)00030-0.


A literature review was conducted on the excess use of alcohol by methadone patients. Although the rate of alcohol abuse among methadone patients was found to be high (compared to general population estimates), the rate was comparable to individuals who engaged in risk-taking behaviors and individuals under stress, such as college students and emergency room patients. Comparisons of rates for different samples was difficult because of the varying criteria used to define alcohol abuse and the absence of operational criteria applicable across different populations. Another source of difficulty was that some studies evaluated motivational variables (why the person drank) and found them to be more important predictors than sociodemographic variables (for example, history of drinking and social class). Contrary to the expectation that methadone patients who consumed excessive amounts of alcohol would require higher dosages of methadone, it was found that nonalcohol-abusing methadone patients requested the higher dosage levels. This finding, however, was subject to methodological confounds. The issue of whether the methadone patient who abused alcohol has a negative treatment outcome was a multifaceted question. The definition of treatment outcome for alcohol-abusing methadone patients determined whether the investigator concluded that there was a negative impact versus minimal impact.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcoholism / classification
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methadone / administration & dosage
  • Methadone / therapeutic use*
  • Motivation
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Research Design
  • Risk-Taking
  • Social Class
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Methadone