Methadone Maintenance

Some Treatment Programs Are Not Effective; Greater Federal Oversight Needed Gao ID: HRD-90-104 March 22, 1990

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the: (1) treatment provided to patients in methadone maintenance programs in eight states; and (2) federal government's oversight role for such programs.

GAO found that: (1) many methadone maintenance programs were not effectively treating heroin addiction; (2) 1 to 47 percent of patients in treatment for more than 6 months continued to use heroin; (3) policies, goals, and practices varied greatly among methadone maintenance treatment programs; (4) none of the programs evaluated the effectiveness of their treatment; and (5) there were no federal standards for treatment programs. GAO also found that: (1) federal oversight of treatment programs has been very limited since 1982; (2) interim maintenance, defined as the supply of methadone without any other support services, did not significantly reduce heroin use or the risk of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS); and (3) many programs failed to meet minimum urine testing requirements, standards for admissions, and medical evaluation requirements.


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