The takeaway policy for methadone is determined for each jurisdiction in line with the National Policy on Methadone Treatment.

The benefits of takeaway doses include:

  • Enhancement of integration into the community, through reduction of time and associated travel costs for the patient;

  • Promotion of patient responsibility for treatment;

  • Reduced inconvenience of regular attendance for the patient thereby enhancing retention. Studies have indicated that programs which have takeaway policies have better retention rates than programs which restrict takeaways;

  • Reduced inconvenience and cost of daily dispensing for the pharmacist or clinic.
Concerns regarding takeaway doses of opioid medications include:
  • Risk of deliberate or accidental overdose by the patient or others, particularly through the use of the takeaway dose by children and other non tolerant individuals and/or use in combination with other sedative drugs.

  • Injection of takeaway medication, resulting in overdose, damage to veins or other health consequences. All patients in receipt of takeaway doses should have an inspection of their veins at regular clinical review. People with evidence of continued injection should have takeaway doses suspended until they show evidence that injecting has ceased.

  • Diversion of takeaway doses resulting in poor outcomes for the patient (poor compliance with the treatment regime) and abuse by other individuals.
Uncontrolled access to takeaway doses is associated with greater diversion and adverse consequences including bringing the program into disrepute. The safety of takeaway doses of methadone is increased by:
  • Careful selection of patients suitable for takeaway methadone (requiring close monitoring by the prescriber and dispenser.)

  • Education of the patient.
Takeaway doses for interstate or overseas travel must be organised through the jurisdictional authority responsible for controlling methadone and the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing.
  • Prescribers should consult the National Policy on Methadone Treatment and jurisdictional policy documents for details.
The International Methadone Users Network provides information and advice on import regulations for methadone and on the possibilities of maintaining treatment abroad in over 150 countries as well as a range of other topics related to international travel by methadone patients. The information is aimed at both patients and doctors and is available on the international coordination and information for drug substitution patients seeking to travel abroad webpage. (www.indro-online.de/nia.htm) To contact the network email INDRO at INDROeV@t-online.de
Top of page