Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Determining effective methadone doses for individual opioid-dependent patients.

Trafton JA, Minkel J, Humphreys K. Determining effective methadone doses for individual opioid-dependent patients. PLoS Medicine. 2006 Mar 1; 3(3):e80.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


BACKGROUND: Randomized clinical trials of methadone maintenance have found that on average high daily doses are more effective for reducing heroin use, and clinical practice guidelines recommend 60 mg/d as a minimum dosage. Nevertheless, many clinicians report that some patients can be stably maintained on lower methadone dosages to optimal effect, and clinic dosing practices vary substantially. Studies of individual responses to methadone treatment may be more easily translated into clinical practice. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A volunteer sample of 222 opioid-dependent US veterans initiating methadone treatment was prospectively observed over the year after treatment entry. In the 168 who achieved at least 1 mo of heroin abstinence, methadone dosages on which patients maintained heroin-free urine samples ranged from 1.5 mg to 191.2 mg (median = 69 mg). Among patients who achieved heroin abstinence, higher methadone dosages were predicted by having a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder or depression, having a greater number of previous opioid detoxifications, living in a region with lower average heroin purity, attending a clinic where counselors discourage dosage reductions, and staying in treatment longer. These factors predicted 42% of the variance in dosage associated with heroin abstinence. CONCLUSIONS: Effective and ineffective methadone dosages overlap substantially. Dosing guidelines should focus more heavily on appropriate processes of dosage determination rather than solely specifying recommended dosages. To optimize therapy, methadone dosages must be titrated until heroin abstinence is achieved.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.