Methadone has been used to treat people addicted to heroin since the 1960s. People who use it are aging and can be subject to the same diseases of old age and unhealthy lifestyles as the rest of the population. Researchers from Emory University in the U.S. studied 91 people who had been enrolled on the methadone-maintenance programme at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center. They found that people who had been using methadone for a long time were more likely to die of diabetes and liver and gastrointestinal cancer (although there was no indication that this was due to the methadone). However methadone had reduced drug use and psychiatric, medial and legal problems among long-term users. Those who had dropped out of methadone treatment showed no improvement in their addictive behaviour.
Fareed, Ayman ... [et al] - Benefits of retention in methadone maintenance and chronic medical conditions as risk factors for premature death among older heroin addicts Journal of Psychiatric Practice May 2009, 15(3), 227-234