The All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has launched Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) programme at its National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), which is the national nodal centre for drug treatment recognised by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

“This new medication – Methadone – has been launched for those who are addicted to opioids drugs such as heroin/brown sugar on a pilot basis at five centres across India. The project is a joint effort of AIIMS and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA), among others.

“The use of illicit substances has emerged as a significant problem in India. The prevalence of pharmaceutical drugs, especially through injecting route, is on the rise in many parts of the country. Drug dependence -- commonly referred to as addiction -- is a chronic relapsing condition akin to other non-communicable diseases like hypertension or diabetes. A single episode of treatment seldom leads to prolonged abstinence from drugs.

The MMT forms one such long-term treatment option for people who are dependent on opioids,’’ noted a release issued by the Union Health Ministry.

Methadone is the most extensively used medication for long-term treatment for opioid dependence. It also provides the users with an opportunity to restore balance in psychological, social and occupational spheres of their lives and assists in their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

“Till now, Buprenorphine was the only medicine available for long-term treatment in India. The availability of MMT will help in increasing the options available to the physicians to treat those suffering from the use of heroin, smack and injections. Already four centres are providing MMT in India through this initiative -- Civil Hospitals Kapurthala and Bathinda in Punjab, King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital in Mumbai and Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Imphal. Now, MMT has been launched through this initiative at AIIMS,’’ noted the release.