Treatment initiation strategies for syringe exchange referrals to methadone maintenance: A randomized clinical trial

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8 Scopus citations


This randomized clinical trial evaluated the efficacy of three treatment initiation strategies for improving retention to methadone maintenance for opioid-dependent individuals referred from a syringe exchange program (SEP). New admissions (n = 212) were randomly assigned to one of three 3-month initiation strategies: 1) Low Threshold (LTI), 2) Voucher Reinforcement (VRI), or 3) Standard Care (SCI). LTI was modeled on interim methadone maintenance to transition SEP admissions to the structure of medication-assisted treatment while maximizing exposure to methadone pharmacotherapy. VRI used monetary incentives to reinforce adherence to pharmacotherapy and adaptive counseling. SCI participants received standard methadone dosing and adaptive counseling. All participants were stabilized on methadone pharmacotherapy with a target dose of 80 mg. Following the initiation phase, participants in each condition received standard adaptive counseling from months 4–6. Results showed that most participants failed to achieve the target methadone dose. While no condition differences were observed in retention rates over the 3-month and 6-month observation periods, participants across conditions exhibited reductions in objective and self-report measures of drug use. Results support the benefits of referring syringe exchangers to methadone maintenance, and demonstrate the challenge of retaining these individuals in treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-350
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Methadone maintenance
  • Syringe exchange
  • Treatment initiation
  • Treatment retention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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