The effect of Housing First on adherence to methadone maintenance treatment – 2018

Opioid overdose deaths have become a public health crisis in North America, and those who are homeless are particularly vulnerable. Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) may prevent overdose and death among homeless people with opioid dependence, but suboptimal medication adherence is a common limitation. Previous research found that Housing First (HF) increases antipsychotic medication adherence among formerly homeless people. However, no experimental trials have examined whether HF has a significant impact on MMT adherence. We examined the intervention effect of HF on MMT adherence in a randomized sample of homeless adults experiencing mental illness and opioid dependence in Vancouver, Canada.

Comprehensive administrative and self-reported data from homeless adults living with serious mental illness recruited to the Vancouver At Home study were analyzed. Only methadone recipients were included (n = 97). The medication possession ratio (MPR) was utilized as the measure of adherence, and relevant data were obtained from provincial administrative pharmacy records. Study arms were HF and treatment as usual (TAU). Student t-tests were used to test for differences in MMT MPR between HF and TAU.

No significant differences were observed in MMT MPR between participants in HF and TAU (0.52 vs. 0.57, p = 0.559) in the post-randomization period.

HF was not associated with significantly different MMT MPR compared to TAU. Additional interventions are indicated as HF alone was insufficient to facilitate improved MMT adherence among formerly homeless adults experiencing concurrent opioid dependence and serious mental illness.

Milad Parpouchi, Akm Moniruzzaman, Stefanie N. Rezansoff, Angela Russolillo, Julian M. Somers
International Journal of Drug Policy, Volume 56, June 2018