Journal Article
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
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Heroin use in adolescents and young adults admitted for drug detoxification.

PURPOSE: To examine heroin use and associated morbidity in young adults undergoing drug detoxification.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review of all persons (ages 18-25) admitted to either of the two state-funded detoxification facilities in Rhode Island was conducted between June 1998 and June 1999. Only those reporting heroin as a primary drug were included in this study (N=201).

RESULTS: Clients were largely male (64%), and white (79%), with a mean age of 22. Of those that reported heroin as their primary drug, 62% used primarily by injection. Mean age of initiation for heroin use was 18.3 years. Twenty-two percent reported a psychiatric diagnosis, and 80% reported a substance-abusing family member. Injection, previous overdose, and a mother with a history of substance use were associated with early initiation of heroin use.

CONCLUSIONS: The majority of young adults with heroin addiction undergoing detoxification began using heroin during late adolescence. Concurrence of psychiatric and medical diagnoses with heroin addiction was common, and may contribute to the severity of drug use. Efforts to identify risk factors for heroin and other injection drug use in adolescents and young adults will be critical for the design of effective interventions to prevent injection drug use and its associated morbidities.

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