Methadone treatment helps reduce crime rates by a third: SFU study

A study led by SFU’s Somers Research group has found that opiate drug treatments are linked to significantly lowering the risk of violent and non-violent crimes—by about a third—among patients diagnosed with opioid dependence and with prior convictions.
This 17-year longitudinal cohort study, published in the leading journal Addiction, is the first comprehensive study to analyze the links between medication and crime. The research team led by SFU health sciences professor Julian Somers utilized big data computing power to analyze every single person in British Columbia’s criminal justice system from 1998-2015. This also includes all transactions of methadone in the tens of millions.
The researchers discovered that patients in the B.C. criminal justice system were taking methadone for less than 50 percent of their doctor prescribed length. In addition, for the time the patients were maintaining their methadone treatments, violent and non-violent crimes dropped by 33 percent and 35 percent, respectively.
“Patients in the justice system with substance and mental health issues costs tax payers $60,000 year over year,” says Somers. “Our findings suggest that if we don’t support these patients with maintaining methadone treatments the public’s investment in helping these people will be completely lost.”

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