It is important to identify social conditions, program factors, and client characteristics that predict retention because time in substance abuse treatment is associated with improved health, mood, and social functioning. Treatment dropouts also are at high risk for serious harms, including relapse. Most opioid-dependent persons require long-term stabilization in methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) to normalize brain function and control withdrawal symptoms. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a client characteristic. namely, attitude toward methadone, was related to retention. Analysis of 14 opinion statements about methadone identified a reliable five-item scale with factorial validity. This scale (Opinions About Methadone; OAM-5) also predicted retention in MMT. Of 338 clients followed for one year after MMT enrollment, 48% dropped out of treatment; those who were more likely to remain had more favorable opinions. A supplementary qualitative study with MMT counselors demonstrated face validity for the OAM-5; counselors found the items easy to interpret and relevant to client attitudes towards MMT. The findings suggest that it would be worthwhile for MMT staff to assess client attitudes at intake, using the OAM-5. This would help them to identify and intervene promptly with those in greatest need of support for remaining in treatment.
- Client opinions
- Opioid dependence