Homeless and mentally ill opioid users only take methadone half the time they’re supposed to, a new Simon Fraser University study suggests.
The research was based on medical records and self-reporting from 78 participants in the Vancouver At Home study over the course of 15 years.
Participants were all homeless, had recorded mental health issues and were prescribed methadone as a treatment for opioid addiction.
More than 1,100 people have died in the first nine months of B.C. alone due to drug overdose related deaths.
The SFU team found only 47 per cent of those who participated in methadone treatment programs took the drug daily.
“It’s not a complete surprise that people who are homeless have a much more difficult time adhering to medication regimens — decent housing and appropriate health and social services need to be part of the solution,” said researcher Milad Parpouchi.
“We cannot divorce pharmacological interventions like methadone from the social environments that people live in.”
Proper methadone use dropped further for those who used drugs every day and those who had never been married.
The study recommends a better approach to housing the homeless because a lack of reliable shelter made it hard for people to seek treatment for both opioid addiction and mental health problems.