Acceptability, feasibility, and outcomes of a clinical pilot program for video observation of methadone take-home dosing during the COVID-19 pandemic

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2022 Dec:143:108896. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2022.108896. Epub 2022 Oct 4.


Background: Methadone is one of the most utilized treatments for opioid use disorder. However, requirements for observing methadone dosing can impose barriers to patients and increase risk for respiratory illness transmission (e.g., COVID-19). Video observation of methadone dosing at home could allow opioid treatment programs (OTPs) to offer more take-home doses while ensuring patient safety through remote observation of ingestion.

Methods: Between April and August 2020, a clinical pilot program of video observation of methadone take-home dosing via smartphone was conducted within a multisite OTP agency. Participating patients completed a COVID-19 symptom screener and submitted video recordings of themselves ingesting all methadone take-home doses. Patients who followed these procedures for a two-week trial period could continue participating in the full pilot program and potentially receive more take-home doses. This retrospective observational study characterizes patient engagement and compares clinical outcomes with matched controls.

Results: Of 44 patients who initiated the two-week trial, 33 (75 %) were successful and continued participating in the full pilot program. Twenty full pilot participants (61 %) received increased take-home doses. Full pilot participants had more days with observed dosing over a 60-day period than matched controls (mean = 53.2 vs. 16.6 days, respectively). Clinical outcomes were similar between pilot participants and matched controls.

Conclusions: Video observation of methadone take-home dosing implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic was feasible. This model has the potential to enhance safety by increasing rates of observed methadone dosing and reducing infection risks and barriers associated with relying solely on face-to-face observation of methadone dosing.

Keywords: Methadone; Opioid treatment programs; Remote therapeutic monitoring; Video directly observed therapy; mHealth.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Methadone
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment / methods
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / rehabilitation
  • Pandemics
  • Pilot Projects


  • Methadone
  • Analgesics, Opioid