Heroin and Methadone Maintenance Treatment: Accessibility, Barriers and Quality of Life issues for Women in the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver, British Columbia

Magdalena Recsky developed her passion for epidemiology while working summers as a research assistant at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. She put that passion into practice through her Masters research, which explored issues surrounding methadone dosing, satisfaction with methadone doses and associated HIV-risk behaviours. Using existing data, she investigated the barriers women face in accessing methadone maintenance programs, which led to a broader study into methadone dosing. Results from the studies and a literature review demonstrate that high patient satisfaction with methadone treatment can potentially decrease certain HIV-risk behaviours. The results also highlight the importance of physician-patient relationships in the treatment of heroin addiction and the importance of individualizing methadone treatment. Although certain methadone doses are pharmacologically required to curb heroin withdrawal, the research shows that once that dose is reached, patient satisfaction with treatment may be more important in positively influencing methadone treatment outcomes. Ultimately, she hopes this research will contribute to improvements in methadone treatment programs that more effectively address the needs of specific population groups, such as those involved in high HIV-risk behaviours.