Impact of a methadone maintenance program on an Aboriginal community: a qualitative study
Landry, Michel H.; Veilleux, Nadia; Arseneault, Julie-Eve; Abboud, Saneea; Barrieau, André; Bélanger, Mathieu
Abstract: Background: Methadone maintenance treatment programs implemented in Aboriginal communities have proven to be beneficial for the control of opioid addiction and its associated consequences, but the perceptions and opinions of different community members about these programs remain elusive. The goal of this study was to determine the perceptions of members of a First Nation community in New Brunswick, Canada, on the implementation of a methadone maintenance treatment program and its effects on the community. Methods: We conducted a qualitative study using semistructured focus group discussions with 3 distinct groups composed of health care professionals and influential community members, patients in the methadone maintenance treatment program and community members at large. Thematic analysis of discussion transcripts was performed. Results: A total of 22 partipants were included in the 3 focus groups. All groups of participants expressed that patients in the program are stigmatized and marginalized. Discussions also revealed widespread misconceptions about the program. Participants associated the program with improvements in community-level outcomes and in parenting abilities of patients, but also with difficulties preserving family unity. Interpretation: Despite being culturally adapted to the community, elements surrounding the methadone maintenance treatment program in this First Nation community appear to be misunderstood and stigmatized. It may be beneficial to provide community education on these programs to assure community buy-in for the successful implementation of harm reduction programs in Aboriginal communities.
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