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33-year study emphasizes lethal consequences of heroin addiction

t; cocaine, 19.4 percent; crack, 10.3 percent; and amphetamines, 11.6 percent).

Some other highlights of the 33-year study include:

  • Deaths: A total of 13.8 percent of the original 581 subjects had died by the time of the first interview; 27.7 percent had died by the second interview; and 48.9 percent had died by the last interview.
  • Heroin use: At the first interview, 37.8 percent of the surviving sample had opiate-free urine tests; 41 percent were opiate free at the second interview; and 55.8 percent were opiate free at the last interview.
  • Cause of death: Among the 284 confirmed deaths over the 33-year follow-up period, the most common cause of death (21.6 percent) was drug overdose. The next most common causes of death were chronic liver disease (15.2 percent), cancer (11.7 percent), and cardiovascular diseases (11.7 percent). Fifty-five deaths (19.5 percent) were due to homicide, suicide, or accident. Three subjects died of AIDS.
  • Criminal justice involvement: Of the final sample, 20.3 percent of participants had been incarcerated during the year prior to the 1996-1997 interview. In addition, 13.7 percent had been engaged in drug dealing and 7.4 percent in property crimes.


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Contact: Blair Gately
bgately@nida.nih.gov
301-443-6245
NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse
13-May-2001


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