Patterns in admission delays to outpatient methadone treatment in the United States

Jan Gryczynski, Robert P. Schwartz, David S. Salkever, Shannon Gwin Mitchell, Jerome H. Jaffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Waiting lists for methadone treatment have existed in many U.S. communities, but little is known nationally about what patient and service system factors are related to admission delays that stem from program capacity shortfalls. Using a combination of national data sources, this study examined patterns in capacity-related admission delays to outpatient methadone treatment in 40 U.S. metropolitan areas (N = 28,920). Patient characteristics associated with admission delays included racial/ethnic minority status, lower education, criminal justice referral, prior treatment experience, secondary cocaine or alcohol use, and co-occurring psychiatric problems. Injection drug users experienced fewer delays, as did self-pay patients and referrals from health care and addiction treatment providers. Higher community-level utilization of methadone treatment was associated with delay, whereas delays were less common in communities with higher utilization of alternative modalities. These findings highlight potential disparities in timely admission to outpatient methadone treatment. Implications for improving treatment access and service system monitoring are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-439
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Admission delays
  • Disparities
  • Methadone
  • Program capacity
  • Treatment access
  • Waiting lists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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