Patterns of heroin use among a non-treatment sample in Glasgow (Scotland)

D. Shewan, P. Dalgarno, A. Marshall, E. Lowe, M. Campbell, S. Nicholson, V. Mclafferty, K. Thomson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Semi-struclured interviews were carried out with 74 participants in Glasgow who had used opiates at least twenty times in the previous two years, who had never been in addiction treatment, and who had never served a custodial sentence. Typically, participants were experienced users of a range of non-opiate and of different opiates, with most describing heroin as their “main opiate of use”. Participants tended to have first used opiates at a relatively late age (mean 22.3 years), and a significant minority of the sample are relatively new users of opiates, with some indication that opiate use may be increasing among users of “dance drugs”. Heroin was rated as the most enjoyable opiate to take, and self-ratings of Severity of Dependence for light and moderate heroin users was low by comparison to clinical samples. Participants reported relatively few major drug-related health and social problems. Levels of criminal activity were higher than those reported in the Scottish Crime Survey general population, but comparable to subgroups of users of other illegal drugs, and considerably lower than levels of criminality typically reported in studies of heroin users. The concept of controlled opiate use is discussed in the context of a model of a continuum of patterns of opiate use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-34
Number of pages20
JournalAddiction Research
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Keywords

  • heroin addiction
  • severity of dependence
  • controlled drug use
  • questionnaire survey

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