The experience of long-term opiate maintenance treatment and reported barriers to recovery: A qualitative systematic review

Caitlin Notley, Annie Blyth, Vivienne Maskrey, Jean Craig, Richard Holland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Background/Aim: To inform understanding of the experience of long-term opiate maintenance and identify barriers to recovery. Methods: A qualitative systematic review. Results: 14 studies in 17 papers, mainly from the USA (65%), met inclusion criteria, involving 1,088 participants. Studies focused on methadone prescribing. Participants reported stability; however, many disliked methadone. Barriers to full recovery were primarily ‘inward focused'. Conclusion: This is the first review of qualitative literature on long-term maintenance, finding that universal service improvements could be made to address reported barriers to recovery, including involving ex-users as positive role models, and increasing access to psychological support. Treatment policies combining harm minimisation and abstinence-orientated approaches may best support individualised recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-298
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Addiction Research
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Opioid maintenance
  • qualitative research
  • systematic review
  • methadone maintenance treatment
  • client experience

Cite this