Impact of methadone maintenance treatment on women offenders' post-release recidivism

Shanna Farrell-MacDonald, Mary-Ann MacSwain, Madelon Cheverie, Maija Tiesmaki, Benedikt Fischer
European Addiction Research 2014, 20 (4): 192-9
Drug--including opioid--dependence is common in correctional populations, however little research exists on interventions for women offenders. Based on retrospective administrative data, we examined rates of return to custody (RTC) among three samples of Canadian federal women offenders with problematic opioid use (total n=137): (1) a group initiated on MMT during incarceration who continued MMT post-release (MMT-C; n=25); (2) a group initiated on MMT but who terminated treatment post-release (MMT-T; n=67), and (3) a non-MMT control group (MMT-N; n=45). Study groups were similar regarding socio-demographic, drug use and criminogenic indicators. Based on an unadjusted Cox proportional hazards model, the MMT-C group had a 65% lower risk of RTC than the MMT-N (reference) group (HR 0.35, CI 0.13-0.90); RTC risk was not different between the MMT-T and the reference group. Most RTCs were for technical revocations (e.g. violation of a legal condition of their release). Continuous MMT following release from corrections appears to be effective in reducing recidivism in women offenders with opioid problems; barriers to MMT in the study population should be better understood and ameliorated.

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