Methadone programs shrink prisoner numbers: study
A new study shows an expansion of prison methadone programs could lead to a major reduction in the number of people returning to jail, and deaths from heroin overdose.
About 900 inmates in New South Wales prisons are receiving methadone treatment at any one time, at a cost of almost $3 million a year.
A National Health and Medical Research Council study of the effects of the treatment has found both money and lives could be saved if such programs were expanded.
The Sydney researchers say 97 per cent of heroin-addicted prisoners return to jail within a year of release.
That compares to only 23 per cent of inmates on a methadone program for more than eight months.
The researchers say the methadone program saves hundreds of dollars a day in incarceration costs.
The study has also found those who go without treatment are much more likely to transmit Hepatitis C to another person or die from an overdose.