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Research Summary

Patients on Methadone With Unhealthy Alcohol Use Have Poor Quality of Life

Excessive alcohol consumption is prevalent among patients receiving methadone treatment for opioid dependence and may be associated with poor quality of life. In this cross-sectional study of 192 outpatients receiving methadone, researchers in England assessed the association between unhealthy alcohol use (measured with the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test [AUDIT]) and health-related quality of life (measured with the SF-12 Health Survey).

  • Thirty percent of patients had current unhealthy alcohol use (i.e., score of >8 on the AUDIT); 10% did not have current unhealthy alcohol use but reported past alcohol problems.

  • The mean SF-12 score was 56 (a score <67 indicates poor health).

  • Health-related quality of life was significantly lower in patients with current unhealthy alcohol use (mean difference in SF-12 scores, 10.4) or with past alcohol problems (mean difference, 12.5) than in patients with neither current unhealthy alcohol use nor past alcohol problems.


Because these findings are from a cross-sectional survey, they should be confirmed in other studies. However, addressing comorbid drinking problems should improve quality of life for patients receiving methadone treatment.

Julia H. Arnsten, MD, MPH


Senbanjo R, Wolff K, Marshall J. Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with reduced quality of life among methadone patients. Addiction. 2007;102(2):257–263.