The National Guidelines: Interim methadone prescribing provide a consistent framework for the safe and responsive delivery of methadone to those on the waiting list for opioid treatment. ‘Interim prescribing’ is considered to be treatment for opioid dependence, so these guidelines must be read in conjunction with Opioid Substitution Treatment New Zealand Practice Guidelines to which these interim guidelines will be appended.
Drug dependence is a condition characterised by a strong desire to repeatedly use a psychoactive substance that takes priority over other activities despite drug-related health, interpersonal and legal problems. The interim prescribing of methadone to those on opioid-treatment service waiting lists is to reduce withdrawal symptoms, reduce opioid drug craving and thus contribute to reducing other health and social harms (eg, criminal offending).
The key principles of assessment, safety and stabilisation are stressed in these guidelines. They also emphasise the particular skills and knowledge that reinforce the need for a trained, well-informed and accountable opioid-treatment workforce