Background: The impact of opioid maintenance treatment (OMT) on quality of life of heroin addicts has been insufficiently studied. This is a student project carried out in the wider frame of a Ph.D-study concerning somatic health among heroin addicts before and during OMT.
We investigated changes in quality of life reported by participants in the Norwegian OMT programme.
Methods: Data were collected through personal interviews with 26 participants in the OMT programme in the county of Oppland. A qualitative analysis was performed, focusing on statements regarding the explanations for changes in quality of life.
Results: 22 out of 26 patients stated that their quality of life has improved during OMT.
Most of the explanations for such changes could be categorized into one of the following:
(1) reduced impact of drug-related problems, (2) reduction in social conflicts, and (3) more positive relations to their families. Surprisingly, improvement in physical health measures, although reported by many, was not often mentioned as important for changing quality of life.
Conclusion: Opioid maintenance treatment often leads to improved self-perceived quality of life among heroin addicts. This need not necessarily reflect altered somatic health, but rather is a result of gaining a higher level of self-control, put into practice through specific, everyday activities such as making one s own schedule, holding on to a job, and have regular contact with the family.