Date: 21 Nov 2008

Longitudinal Effects of LAAM and Methadone Maintenance on Heroin Addict Behavior

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Levo-alpha-acetylmethadol maintenance (LAAM) was compared to methadone maintenance (MM) on the behavioral performance of 315 heroin addicts before, during, and after 12 months of fully subsidized treatment. Assessments of drug use, criminal behavior, HIV risk behaviors, and employment and residential status were obtained at treatment intake and at 6, 12, and 18 months after admission. Treatment retention and in-treatment suppression of heroin use were significantly better for the LAAM group than for the MM group. Improvements were also noted during treatment in criminal behavior, criminal justice involvement, and employment status, and there were reductions in injection HIV risk and number of sexual partners. Most significant effects were primarily related to active participation in maintenance treatment. Under subsidized treatment, retention rates were two to four times that of similar clients in local community programs during the same period. LAAM was a useful and a potentially important addition to treatment options for opiate addiction, conferring greater retention and opiate suppression benefits. Its removal from application provides a historical lesson concerning the introduction of new medications into addiction health services.
Douglas Longshore died December 2005.