Methadone substitution treatment: mortality and progression pathways

People who inject heroin have a risk of death six times higher than the general population. The most effective treatment for heroin injectors is the prescription of legal, substitution drugs, most commonly methadone. This is called opiate or methadone substitution treatment (MST). The majority (60%) of patients on MST in Ireland attend specialist outpatient addiction services. MST has been described as a double edge sword, as despite evidence supporting the benefits of MST, methadone itself has been associated with drug-related deaths. The present study wants to determine what factors increase a methadone patient's risk of death. Furthermore, we want to understand the various treatment pathways available to patients attending addiction services, for example which patients progress from addiction services to general practice, or to detoxification programmes, and do these changes reduce the risk of death among patients? We will achieve this by analysing data from patients attending MST in outpatient addiction services in Dublin between 2010 and 2015. We will also interview 40 patients attending addiction services for MST to strengthen the patient's voice as we seek to understand risk factors for death and the best treatment pathways for patients.


Award Date
20 October 2016
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Grainne Cousins
Host Institution
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Health Research Awards