Although factors associated with successful termination of methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) have been well studied, the question of why certain methadone patients try to taper off methadone while others do not is still unanswered. Those patients who wish to continue MMT should of course be allowed to stay in treatment. However, even if only a small portion of the MMT patients wish to quit maintenance treatment, they should be offered all possible support by the treatment staff to maximize the possibility of a successful outcome. In the present study, we compared two groups of well-functioning MMT patients with respect to background factors, methadone-related factors, drug-related factors and psychological characteristics: one group consisted of patients who were trying to terminate their MMT (group 1) and the other group consisted of patients who were not trying (group 2). Each of the groups contained 25 well-rehabilitated subjects matched by age, gender and the number of years in MMT. The results show that the patients who were not trying to terminate MMT (in comparison to group 1) were not influenced by others to try to quit methadone, had a long history of opiate use as well as mixed drug use prior to MMT, had a higher methadone dose and reported a lower degree of anticipated abstinence symptoms. According to the statements of the subjects in group 2, the most important reason for not quitting treatment was the belief that they needed the methadone. The fact that they knew others who had failed to quit MMT and low confidence in succeeding were other common answers. Further, our results suggest that patients who were satisfied with their overall drug situation were less inclined to make a withdrawal attempt.

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