A good quality of life under the influence of methadone : a qualitative study among opiate-dependent individuals
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
International journal of nursing studies. - Oxford
, p. 1244-1257
University of Antwerp
Background Attention from researchers and health care workers to the quality of life (QoL) of opiate users is growing, but most studies are quantitative, giving limited attention to the consumer's perspective. No information is available on how opiate-dependent individuals themselves perceive QoL and what they see as the important components that contribute to a good QoL. Objectives This qualitative study aims to expand our knowledge concerning opiate-dependent individuals perceptions of a good QoL and the impact of methadone on components of a good QoL. Methods In-depth interviews were conducted with 25 opiate-dependent individuals aged between 26 and 46 years old who started a methadone maintenance treatment at least 5 years ago. Purposive sampling was used to recruit participants with different socio-demographic characteristics and drug use profiles. The interviews were audio-tape recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. Results Thematic analyses revealed five key themes contributing to a good QoL for opiate-dependent individuals: (1) having social relationships, (2) holding an occupation, (3) feeling good about one's self, (4) being independent and (5) having a meaningful life. Opiate-dependent individuals valued methadone's ability to help them function normally, overcome their psychological problems and dependence on illicit opiates, and support them in achieving certain life goals. On the other hand, stigmatisation, discrimination, dependence on methadone and the drug's paralysing effects on their emotions were mentioned as common negative consequences. Conclusions The findings of this study highlight the importance of supporting opiate-dependent individuals in their daily life by means of practical, social and environmental support (alongside pharmacological treatment) in order to improve their QoL. This study further illustrates the ambivalent influence of methadone on opiate-dependent individuals QoL, and demonstrates how something commonly perceived as a good can also be a bad for some people. Efforts should be made to limit the negative consequences of methadone on opiate-dependent individuals QoL, while increasing its potential benefits.