| EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE
Monday, May 14, 2001
4:00 p.m. EST
33-Year Study Emphasizes Lethal Consequences of Heroin Addiction
- 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.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports more than 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and other topics can be ordered free of charge in English and Spanish through NIDA Infofax at 1-888-NIH-NIDA (644-6432) or 1-888-TTY-NIDA (889-6432) for the deaf. These fact sheets and further information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA home page at http://www.drugabuse.gov.