The efficacy of methadone maintenance interventions in reducing illicit opiate use, HIV risk behavior and criminality: a meta-analysis

Addiction. 1998 Apr;93(4):515-32. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.1998.9345157.x.


Aims: To provide empirically based evaluation data regarding the efficacy of psychopharmacological interventions in opiate substance abuse, the present study employed meta-analytic statistical procedures to determine the effectiveness of methadone hydrochloride as a pharmacotherapeutic agent.

Design: Empirical research findings from 11 studies investigating the effect of methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) on illicit opiate use, and eight and 24 studies investigating the effect of MMT on HIV risk behaviors and criminal activities, respectively, by individuals in such treatment were addressed.

Findings: Results demonstrate a consistent, statistically significant relationship between MMT and the reduction of illicit opiate use, HIV risk behaviors and drug and property-related criminal behaviors. The effectiveness of MMT is most apparent in its ability to reduce drug-related criminal behaviors. MMT had a moderate effect in reducing illicit opiate use and drug and property-related criminal behaviors, and a small to moderate effect in reducing HIV risk behaviors.

Conclusions: Results clarify discrepancies in the literature and are useful in predicting the outcomes of individuals in treatment. The treatment's effectiveness is evident among opiate-dependent individuals across a variety of contexts, cultural and ethnic groups, and study designs.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Crime
  • HIV Infections / etiology
  • Humans
  • Methadone / administration & dosage*
  • Narcotics / administration & dosage*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Risk-Taking


  • Narcotics
  • Methadone