Feasibility of referring drug users from a needle exchange program into an addiction treatment program: Experience with a mobile treatment van and LAAM maintenance

Irene Kuo, Joseph Brady, Carol Butler, Robert Schwartz, Robert Brooner, David Vlahov, Steffanie A. Strathdee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We evaluated program entry, retention, and early treatment response of needle exchange program (NEP) attenders referred to a drug treatment program using levomethadyl acetate hydrochloride (LAAM). Of 163 referrals, 114 (70%) entered the program, and 84% were retained for at least 90 days. Comparing baseline and follow-up visits after 1 month, there were significant reductions in the Addiction Severity Index subscale scores for drug and alcohol use and legal situation. We observed a 31% and 22% reduction in heroin- and cocaine-positive urine tests, respectively (p < .0001). Although LAAM is no longer considered a first line treatment for heroin addiction, these results demonstrate the feasibility of utilizing long-acting agonist therapies such as LAAM to treat opioid dependence among NEP attenders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-74
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003



  • Buprenorphine
  • Drug treatment
  • LAAM
  • Mobile van
  • Needle exchange program

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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