Methadone maintenance treatment program for drug abuse prisoners in Iran
S. Momtazi1,2, R. Rawson1, N. Musavinasab2, M.B. Mamzehlu3. 1Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, University of California Los Angeles, United States; 2Zanjan University of Medical Sciences, Iran; 3Zanjan Prison Health Center, Iran
Background: There are more than 300,000 opiate drug users under methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) in Iran. More than half of the prisoners in Iran have been arrested for drug- related crimes. For the goals of harm reduction and relapse prevention both in prison and after release from prison, MMT programs have been set up in the prisons in large cities of the country.
Methods: In this study, we aimed at finding a profile of the demographic and drug abuse history of MMT patients in prisons. We asked a sample of 153 drug-related prisoners about their drug abuse history and their MMT in Zanjan, Iran.
Results: Our sample included 153 male prisoners under MMT while in prison. The age range was between 23 and 67 with a mean±standard deviation of 36.06±7.97. Among this group, 32 patients (20.9%) had a high school education and 121 patients (79.1%) had less than high school. Sixty-three patients (41.2%) were single, 75 patients (49.0%) were married, and the remaining were single or divorced. Regarding duration of methadone treatment, 53 patients (34.6%) were on MMT in prison for less than 6 months, 36 patients (23.5%) for 6–12 months, 33 patients (21.6%) for 1–2 years, and 31 patients for more than 2 years. Regarding treatment satisfaction, 123 patients (80.4%) expressed complete satisfaction. A history of drug abuse with a frequent multidrug use pattern was positive for heroin in 134 patients (87.6%), opium in 116 (75.8%), opiate prescription drugs in 56 (36.6%), cannabis in 71 (46.4%), and methamphetamine in 86 (56.2%). Seventy-five patients (46.4%) had a history of injection drug use.
Conclusion: MMT can be a practical way of harm reduction and also a satisfactory drug abuse treatment program for drug-related prisoners.