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The limits of legitimacy: service providers’ views on maintenance treatment in Sweden
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work. (Addiction Research Group)
2011 (English)In: Addiction Research and Theory, ISSN 1058-6989, Vol. 19, no 5, 427-437 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: It is widely acknowledged that the social meaning of maintenance treatment (MT) with methadone is context-dependent and that different discourses influence how this approach to opiate addiction problems is practised. In Sweden, MT has long been ideologically controversial, even if the past decade’s emphasis on evidence-based interventions has made it more accepted and prevalent in the treatment system. MT may thus be seen as a discursive field where science and values are intertwined and impact practice jointly, which emphasises the importance of analysing how MT is attributed with meaning. Objectives: The study aims to identify and analyse the discourses that service providers in Swedish opiate addiction treatment refer to in their efforts to legitimise MT. Methods: Twenty-eight interviews focused on MTrelated issues were conducted with Swedish social workers and health care workers. The material was analysed qualitatively according to discourse theory. Findings: Three key features of MT were identified: as therapeutic intervention; as beyond harm reduction and as pragmatic solution. The respondents constructed MT as a necessary medical and psychosocial treatment aimed at rehabilitation and patients’ complete break with drug abuse, which reflects a policy-context where solutions to drug problems are supposed to be resolute, thorough and abstinence-oriented. Conclusions: The service providers handled the controversy between science and values by drawing on a decent-life discourse, where opiate addiction problems are solved with a pragmatic stance towards evidence and where only interventions that make patients’ lives allegedly decent are considered legitimate (excluding, e.g. heroin prescription and liberal methadone distribution).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Gordon and Breach , 2011. Vol. 19, no 5, 427-437 p.
Keyword [en]
Maintenance treatment, methadone, substitution, opiate addiction, service providers, discourse
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-64904DOI: 10.3109/16066359.2010.545158ISI: 000294007900008OAI: diva2:459777
Vetenskapsrådet (nr. 2005-1644)
authorCount :1Available from: 2011-11-28 Created: 2011-11-28 Last updated: 2011-12-27Bibliographically approved

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