Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Seven-year follow-up of heroin addicts: drug use and outcome.

Br Med J 1978; 1 doi: (Published 06 May 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;1:1190
  1. G V Stimson,
  2. E Oppenheimer,
  3. A Thorley


    A representative sample of 128 of the patients who in 1969 attended London drug dependence clinics and received daily prescriptions for heroin was personally followed up seven years later. The mean age of the patients at follow-up was 32.7 years, and a mean of 12.8 years had elapsed since they first admitted to using heroin. Follow-up was successful in 124 cases (97%). Fifty-two people (41%) had stopped attending the clinics, 6 (5%) were in prison, 55 (43%) were still attending the clinics, and 15 (12%) had died. Abstinence from opiates had been achieved by at least 40 people, 33 having abstained for two years or more. Abstinence did not seem to have been replaced by dependence on other drugs, including alcohol. Sixty-two people (48%) were still using opiates; only 7 (5%) did so without attending clinics and obtaining legal prescriptions.