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J Subst Abuse Treat. 2004 Jul;27(1):67-73.

Young people with heroin dependence: findings from the Australian Treatment Outcome Study (ATOS).

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National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, NSW 2052, Australia.


This paper examines the patterns and correlates of heroin use in a cohort of 210 young Australians aged between 18 and 24, who were participants in the Australian Treatment Outcome Study, a longitudinal study of treatment outcomes for heroin dependence. Of major importance were the high rates of psychiatric comorbidity found among this group (37% lifetime Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, 23% current Major Depression, 75% Anti-Social Personality Disorder, and 51% Borderline Personality Disorder). Seventeen percent had attempted suicide in the preceding year. Although both the young (aged 18-24 years) heroin users and their older counterparts (aged 25-56 years) initiated drug use at the same age, young heroin users progressed to heroin use, regular heroin use, and treatment for heroin use, twice as quickly as older heroin users. These findings suggest that there is a limited window of opportunity in which early interventions may be applied before young heroin users progress to problematic use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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