A randomized clinical trial of methadone maintenance for prisoners: results at 12 months postrelease

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2009 Oct;37(3):277-85. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2009.03.002. Epub 2009 Mar 31.


This study examined the impact of prison-initiated methadone maintenance at 12 months postrelease. Males with pre-incarceration heroin dependence (N = 204) were randomly assigned to (a) Counseling Only: counseling in prison, with passive referral to treatment upon release; (b) Counseling + Transfer: counseling in prison with transfer to methadone maintenance treatment upon release; and (c) Counseling + Methadone: counseling and methadone maintenance in prison, continued in the community upon release. The mean number of days in community-based drug abuse treatment were, respectively, Counseling Only, 23.1; Counseling + Transfer, 91.3; and Counseling + Methadone, 166.0 (p < .01); all pairwise comparisons were statistically significant (all ps < .01). Counseling + Methadone participants were also significantly less likely than participants in each of the other two groups to be opioid-positive or cocaine-positive according to urine drug testing. These results support the effectiveness of prison-initiated methadone for males in the United States. Further study is required to confirm the findings for women.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cocaine / urine
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heroin Dependence / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methadone / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Narcotics / therapeutic use*
  • Prisoners
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States


  • Narcotics
  • Cocaine
  • Methadone