Alcoholism as a risk factor in methadone maintenance

A randomized controlled trial
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      A randomized controlled trial of 625 addicts on methadone maintenance identified 105 (17 percent) as active alcoholics, 47 (8 percent) as inactive alcoholics, and 473 (75 percent) as nonalcoholics. Subjects were followed for up to 29 months (mean 53.7 weeks) to assess the influence of alcoholism on the rehabilitative process. During the study, alcohol consumption significantly decreased (p < 0.001) in active alcoholics. Indexes of productive activity on entry or during follow-up revealed no significant differences between active alcoholics and other patients with the exception of alcohol-related hospitalizations (p < 0.001). Behavioral indexes consistently improved with treatment in all patients, being greatest among active alcoholics (p < 0.01). During the study, 28 (7 percent) of 399 nonalcoholics were recategorized as active alcoholics, and remission from alcoholism was noted in 28 (27 percent) of patients who were initially classified as alcoholic. These findings suggest that alcoholism does not significantly affect rehabilitation from narcotic use and therefore should not be cause for detoxification from methadone maintenance.
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