- Methadone is the most effective treatment for heroin addiction.
- Compared to the other major drug treatment modalities—drug-free outpatient treatment, therapeutic communities, and chemical dependency treatment—methadone is the most rigorously studied and has yielded the best results.
- Methadone is effective HIV/AIDS prevention.
- MMT reduces the frequency of injecting and of needle sharing. Methadone treatment is also an important point of contact with service providers and supplies an opportunity to teach drug users harm reduction techniques such as how to prevent HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other health problems that endanger drug users.
- Methadone treatment reduces criminal behavior.
- Drug-offense arrests decline because MMT patients reduce or stop buying and using illegal drugs. Arrests for predatory crimes decline because MMT patients no longer need to finance a costly heroin addiction, and because treatment allows many patients to stabilize their lives and obtain legitimate employment.
- Methadone drastically reduces, and often eliminates, heroin use among addicts
- The Treatment Outcome Prospective Study (TOPS)—the largest contemporary controlled study of drug treatment—found that patients drastically reduced their heroin use while in treatment, with less than 10% using heroin weekly or daily after just three months in treatment. After two or more years, heroin use among MMT patients declines, on average, to 15% of pretreatment levels. Often, use of other drugs—including cocaine, sedatives, and even alcohol — also declines when an opiate addict enters methadone treatment, even though methadone has no direct pharmacological effect on non-opiate drug craving.
- Methadone is cost effective
- MMT, reduces the criminal behavior associated with illegal drug use, promotes health, and improves social productivity, all of which serve to reduce the societal costs of drug addiction. Cost benefit analyses indicate savings of $4 to $5 in health and social costs for every dollar spent on MMT. Incarceration costs $20,000 to $40,000 per year. Residential drug treatment programs are significantly more expensive than MMT, at a cost of $13,000 to $20,000 per year, though it should be noted that treatment stays are typically no more than one year in these programs. Finally, given that only 5 to 10% of the cost of MMT actually pays for the medication itself, methadone could be prescribed and delivered even less expensively, through physicians in general medical practice, low-service clinics, and pharmacies.
*Statistics are taken from http://www.drugpolicy.org