Research Article

Seven-year follow-up of heroin addicts: abstinence and continued use compared.

Br Med J 1979; 2 doi: (Published 15 September 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;2:627
  1. E Oppenheimer,
  2. G V Stimson,
  3. A Thorley


    Data from a seven-year follow-up study of drug addicts were examined to see whether there were any differences between those who had stopped using opiates and those who had continued to use them. Information about the addicts when they first entered the study in 1969 was also reviewed to determine whether any of their characteristics would have predicted whether they would stop using opiates or continue. Those who had stopped using opiates by 1976-7 were more likely than the continuing addicts to have a job and legitimate source of income, to be in good health, and to have a stable address and less likely to have problems with the law or contact with addicts. In 1969, however, there were few differences between those who eventually stopped using drugs and those who continued, though the former group were younger, had a shorter period of heroin use, and had worked less since they became addicted. Over the seven years' follow-up the addicts who stopped taking drugs changed most, while those who stayed on opiates changed their life-style very little.