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MMT for clients with concurrent mental health problems

Copyright © 2009 CAMH


Mental health problems are common among people who are dependent on opioids. Common disorders include:

  • major depression
  • dysthymic disorder
  • antisocial personality disorder and other personality disorders
  • anxiety disorders
  • attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (King & Brooner, 1999).

Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) clients with concurrent mental health problems are more likely to continue substance use and to engage in high-risk behaviour, such as sharing needles. Clients should be assessed for mental health problems because identifying and addressing these concerns can improve MMT outcomes (King & Brooner, 1999).

Equally, MMT can benefit clients with concurrent mental health problems by:

  • providing access to counselling and other mental health treatment services
  • providing a stable environment that requires daily attendance and has clear rules
  • dispensing other medications along with methadone
  • providing access to medical care and the opportunity to develop relationships with other health care providers
  • providing access to psychosocial rehabilitation programs (Health Canada, 2002).

Some symptoms related to substance use and withdrawal may mimic those of mental health disorders. Carefully assess the client throughout treatment to determine how the person's symptoms are affected by changes in substance use patterns.