Alcohol consumption during methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) often becomes a problem. We investigated a group of 68 patients undergoing MMT in our care. Mean duration of MMT was 50 months. A set of risk factors for problematic alcohol use (‘alcohol indicators’) was set up consisting of patients’ account and laboratory parameters. 52% of patients were positive for these ‘alcohol indicators’ and 32% of patients fulfilled more severe criteria for alcohol abuse. There was exactly the same proportion of patients with ‘alcohol indicators’ at the start of MMT as at follow-up examination. In 79% of these patients ‘alcohol indicators’ were found on both occasions, testifying that alcohol problems were a stable trait. While patients without ‘alcohol indicators’ showed an improvement of liver parameters over time, those with ‘alcohol indicators’ suffered a considerable deterioration, indicating that the amount of alcohol consumption had increased.

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