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Human Services


Barbara Benoliel


Today's methadone patients differ from those of the past due to increases in polydrug use, mental health issues, and medical needs. Patients requiring methadone treatment for their opiate addiction are now older than those who initially presented for treatment when methadone treatment first started. The number of older opiate users will continue to grow as the population continues to age. Although previous studies on opiate addiction focused on using methadone in treatment of younger adults, this study used phenomenological methodology to explore the lived experiences of opiate addicted methadone users between the ages of 50 to 55, an understudied population. A sample of 8 older addicts from the Midwest, using methadone in their treatment, provided data collected in face-to-face interviews for this study. Content analysis of the data was conducted with the assistance of NVivo 11 to code and identify categories and themes. Emergent themes included: the impact of methadone use on participants' relationship with others, participants' attitude of being an older methadone user, mental health stressors related to being an older methadone user, struggles in attending the methadone clinic daily, and needing other treatment besides treatment for methadone use. The study impacts social change by informing addiction professionals who may want to develop appropriate treatment interventions for this population.

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