Open Access Research article

Methadone treatments in a Swiss Region, 2001–2008: a registry-based analysis

Thérèse Huissoud, Valentin Rousson and Françoise Dubois-Arber*

Author affiliations

Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University Hospital Centre and University of Lausanne, Biopole 2 Route de la Corniche 10, CH – 1010, Lausanne, Switzerland

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Citation and License

BMC Psychiatry 2012, 12:238  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-238

Published: 28 December 2012



To determine, in a region of Switzerland, the duration of retention in opioid substitution treatments with methadone (OSTM), duration of treatment interruptions, probability of re-entry to treatment after a treatment interruption, and associated factors.


A secondary analysis of registry-based data was performed with patients (n = 2880) registered in the methadone treatment register database of the Public Health Service of the canton of Vaud between January 1, 2001 and June 30, 2008. Survival analysis and multivariate analysis was conducted.


The probability of remaining on treatment was 69% at 1 year and 45% at 3 years (n =1666). One-third of patients remained on treatment beyond 5 years. The estimated hazard of leaving treatment was increased by a ratio of 1.31 in the case of a first treatment (P = 0.001), 1.83 for those without a fixed home (P < 0.001), and 1.29 for those younger than 30 years old (P < 0.001). The probability of having begun a new treatment after a first interruption was 21% at one year, 38% at 3 years, and 43% at 5 years (n = 1581). Factors at the interruption of treatment associated with a higher probability of re-entering were: interruption not due to methadone withdrawal, bad physical health, and higher methadone dose.


OSTM are long-term (maintenance) treatments in Switzerland. Younger age, bad living conditions at entry, and first treatment are predictors of lower retention. Approximately one-half of patients who interrupt treatment will re-enter treatment within 5 years.

Opioid substitution; Methadone maintenance; Methadone registry; Treatment duration; Treatment interruption; Switzerland