Methadone is the usual treatment for heroin addicts. It improves physical and mental health and social functioning and reduces criminal behaviour. However, people can die of an overdose of methadone and some people argue that it prolongs the period of dependence as it takes a long time to come off it. In 1999 buprenorphine was licensed for use in treating heroin addiction. It is less harmful in overdose and easier to withdraw from although methadone is slightly more effective and significantly cheaper. However, little is known about the views of heroin addicts themselves on methods of treatment. A study of 42 addicts in Norwich found that those taking buprenorphine viewed methadone more negatively and buprenorphine more positivelythan those taking methadone. Those taking methadone apperared to do do on the basis of familiarity whereas those taking buprenorphie appeared to be attracted by their beliefs that it would block heroin more effectively, reduce cravings, give less intoxication and be earlier to stop taking than methadone.
Pinto, H., Rumball, D. and Holland R. Attitudes and knowledge of substancd misusers regarding buprenorphine and methadone maintenance therapy Journal of Substacke Use Janray 2008, 13(3), 143-153