Methadone Medical Maintenance (MMM): Treating chronic opioid dependence in private medical practice - A summary report (1983-1998)

Edwin A. Salsitz, Herman Joseph, Blanche Frank, John Perez, Beverey L. Richman, Nadim Salomon, Marcia F. Kalin, David M. Novick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Methadone Medical Maintenance (MMM) was implemented in 1983 to enable socially rehabilitated methadone patients to be treated in the offices of private physicians rather than in the traditional clinic system. Over a period of 15 years, 158 methadone patients who fulfilled specific criteria within the clinic system entered this program in New York City. Participating patients reported to their physician once a month and received a one-month supply of methadone tablets rather than a one-day liquid dose in a bottle. Of the 158 patients who entered this program, 132 (83.5%) were compliant with the regulations and proved to be treatable within the hospital-based private practices of internists participating in the program. Compliant MMM patients found it easier to improve their employment status and business situations, finish their educations, and normalize their lives in MMM as opposed to the traditional clinic system because they had simplified reporting schedules and fewer clinical restrictions. Twelve (8%) compliant patients were able to successfully withdraw from methadone after an average of 17.7 years of treatment in both the traditional clinics and MMM. Twenty compliant patients (13%) died from a variety of causes, 40% of which were related to cigarette smoking. None of the deaths were attributable to long-term methadone treatment. Other causes of death included hepatitis C, AIDS, cancer, homicide, complications of morbid obesity and meningitis. The 26 noncompliant patients (16.5%) were referred back to their clinics for continued treatment or were discharged for failure to report as directed. A major cause of failure in MMM was abuse of crack/cocaine. Stigma concerning enrollment in methadone treatment was a major social issue that patients faced. Many refused to inform employers, members of their families, friends, and other physicians who treated them for a various of conditions that they were methadone patients. The methadone medical maintenance physician, therefore, functions as a medical ombudsman for the patient, educating other physicians who treat the patient about methadone maintenance and its applicability to the patient. Our results can serve as a model for the expansion of office-based MMM treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-397
Number of pages10
JournalMount Sinai Journal of Medicine
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Oct 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Heroin addiction
  • Methadone
  • Methadone maintenance
  • Methadone medical maintenance
  • Private practice


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