Data from surveys, prescriptions, emergency room visits, and substance abuse treatment clinics reveals some interesting trends in methadone use in the United States over the past several decades.

Statistics up to 2010

  • The number of methadone prescriptions filled at pharmacies increased from about 860,000 in 2000 to 4,440,000 in 2008.
  • The most popular formulation of methadone is the 10-mg tablet, which comprised 85% of all methadone doses in 2008.
  • Between 2000 and 2008, the U.S. Poison Control Centers reported roughly 4,700 methadone exposures and about 100 methadone deaths. The death rate from methadone exposures increased from around 25 in the year 2000 to more than 100 in 2008. [1]
  • Between 2004 and 2007, the number of emergency room visits that involved methadone increased from around 48,000 to 69,000.There was also a roughly 80% increase in visits involving methadone use in combination with alcohol, street drugs, and other prescription drugs. In 2007, more than 70% of methadone visits were by Caucasians, with the highest rate for those in the 21–24 age group. Roughly 80% of emergency room visits for methadone use involve non-medical use, including misuse and abuse. The number of people admitted to addiction treatment centers for illegal or street methadone increased from around 1,200 in the early 1990s to more than 5,000 in 2007. The rate of methadone overdose deaths increased by 600% from 1999 to 2006. [2]

Statistics after 2010

  • In 2010, roughly 10% of all treatment facilities were certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for the provision of medication-assisted therapy with methadone or buprenorphine.
  • Approximately 80% of OTPs (opioid treatment programs) provided outpatient treatment in the decade leading up to 2018. Only 24% provided residential treatment, and about 5% provided hospital inpatient treatment. This indicates that most people with opioid use disorders receive outpatient addiction treatment with methadone.
  • In 2014, methadone accounted for nearly one-fourth of all prescription opioid deaths. [3] Methadone continues to be used extensively to treat opioid addiction. Various studies have shown that methadone maintenance in opioid addicts leads to a significant decline in illicit drug use as well as criminal activity. It has also shown improvement in health benefits, including reduced risk of HIV/AIDS. [4]

Last updated: November 15, 2022

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Hailey Shafir, M.Ed., LCMHCS, LCAS, CCS

Hailey Shafir is a licensed addiction specialist and mental health counselor. She graduated from North Carolina State University with a master of education in clinical mental health counseling in 2012, and has developed deep expertise in the areas of mental health, behavioral addictions and substance abuse. She is passionate about using this knowledge to raise awareness, provide clear and accurate information, and to improve the quality of treatment for these disorders.

Hailey is an LCMHCS (license number: S9539) under the North Carolina Board of Mental Health Counselors, and an LCAS (ID: LCAS-21333) and CSS (ID: CCS-20721) under the North Carolina Addictions Specialist Professional Practice Board.

References

References
1 Maxwell JC, McCance-Katz EF. Indicators of buprenorphine and methadone use and abuse: what do we know?. Am J Addict. 2010;19(1):73-88. doi:10.1111/j.1521-0391.2009.00008.x
2, 3 Faul M., Bohm M., Alexander C. Methadone Prescribing and Overdose and the Association with Medicaid Preferred Drug List Policies — United States, 2007–2014. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
4 Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Federal Regulation of Methadone Treatment; Rettig RA, Yarmolinsky A, editors. Federal Regulation of Methadone Treatment. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1995. 1, Introduction. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK232114/