A Qualitative Study of Prescribing Doctor Experiences of Methadone Maintenance Treatment

  • Marie Claire Van Hout
  • Tim Bingham


Methadone maintenance treatment [MMT] is recognized as an effective treatment for opiate dependence. It is provided in Ireland in addiction clinics and for stabilized patients in primary care. The aim of the study was to explore doctor’s experiences of methadone prescribing, therapeutic alliance and methadone treatment pathways. Semi structured interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of prescribing doctors (n = 16). Thematic analysis of narratives was undertaken. Observations around MMT were positive in reducing harm associated with injecting drug use and opiate dependence, and represented an important turning point for patients. Doctor efforts to assist their patients were grounded in positive, empathic relationships. Some concerns were relayed with regard to prescribing restrictions. Participants commented on the need for policy makers to consider the expansion of MMT provision to include alternative pharmacological approaches, improved interagency, psychosocial and detoxification supports, community based nurse prescribing and adjunct treatment for poly drug and alcohol use.


Methadone Shared care Opiate dependence 



The authors would like to thank the doctors who participated in the study.


The research was funded by the Dublin North East Task Force, Ireland. The opinions expressed in this article are of the researchers and are not necessarily those of the Dublin North East Task Force.

Conflict of Interest

The authors report no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health SciencesWaterford Institute of TechnologyWaterfordIreland

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