Opioid substitution treatment (OST) provides people who use heroin or other opioids with a medication to treat and stabilise opioid dependence. The most commonly used medications for treatment are methadone and buprenorphine. Methadone has been one of the most heavily studied pharmaceutical drugs within the medical community, with a massive evidence base to support its use in the treatment of drug dependence.
This fact sheet summarises the international and regional evidence base that has formed around OST from a socio-economic, social science, and medical science perspective. It highlights the hidden global health crisis of OST in prisons and debunks several myths routinely used to block the provision of OST as a matter of health policy.