Heroin addiction and methadone treatment : A descriptive study of the addict's behavior



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A naturalistic study was conducted to explore the molar daily life habits and behavior patterns of heroin addicts before and during methadone treatment and assess the affective and somatic symptomatology during the transition period from heroin to methadone. Six heroin addicts recorded their daily activities on a behavior coding schedule for a total of 2,520 hours, an average of 8.3 days immediately preceding methadone treatment and 9.2 days immediately after initiation of methadone intake. The heroin addicts' life style was characterized by a limited range of activities, social interactions, and settings, indicating an indoor- socially isolated-sedentary life pattern. An increase in social contact and range of activities and settings was observed during methadone intake, suggesting that methadone treatment sets the stage for greater social contact and social adjustment. The transition from heroin intake to methadone induction was found to be associated with mild to severe somatic and affective discomfort. Complaints increased in intensity during the first 24 to 72 hours after methadone initiation and tended to subside on the fourth and fifth day. Ss continued heroin intake during methadone treatment, although intake frequency decreased substantially. The self-report method devised for the present study offers an encouraging and viable strategy for the study of the life habits of this special population in its natural environment.



Heroin abuse, Drug treatment, Methadone maintenance