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Older heroin users are 27 times more likely to be homicide victims

Published On: 08-13-2015 in Category: addiction, Drug Abuse, Heroin, Opioids


Research collected from one the largest surveys of opioid users found that older opioid users have an alarmingly higher chance of being victims of homicide than the general population. This study was led by Dr. Tim Millar from the University of Manchester’s Center for Mental Health and was published in January of 2015 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Researchers used records of 198,247 opioid users in England who had undergone drug addiction treatment or were incarcerated in the criminal justice system between the years of 2005 and 2009. Out of this sample, there were 3,974 deaths within the given period of time. The results found that opioid users were six times more likely to die prematurely than those who do not abuse these drugs. Suicide attributed to approximately 10 percent of these deaths, which suggests that opioid users are also four times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.

Millar stated, “This group is also one of the most vulnerable to homicide – at a rate which is staggeringly higher than in the general population. It is apparent that older users of opioids are one of the most vulnerable groups in society, yet most treatment programmes don’t differentiate by age.” He emphasized that “opioid users need to hear this new information on overdose, to emphasize their risk of overdosing increases as they get older.”

This study was the first to monitor age patterns in mortality among opioid users. The results revealed that there are many health differences between the general population and opioid users that grow larger with age. In the age group ranging between 45 and 64 years old, opioid users were 27 times more likely to be victims of homicide. The study also emphasized that diseases of the respiratory system, circulatory system and the liver were all much more common among opioid users than within the general public.

Researchers realize many drug users are often subjected to lifestyles, living standards and other circumstances that the general public may not face on a daily basis. Some of the side effects of heroin addiction lead many to adopt poor physical hygiene habits, pick up other harmful addictions such as smoking cigarettes and seek out questionable or dangerous social circles.

Millar added that the U.K. is seeing a growing number of users who started their habit as early as the 1980s and 1990s. As these users age, “the health gap between them and the wider public increases, so much more work is needed to develop specific programmes which focus on treating and informing this group.”

When compared to the general population, the alarming number of aging heroin addicts developing health problems and experiencing violent crime indicates a serious problem that is on the rise. Heroin addiction is tough to shake and seems to predict a spectrum of disastrous situations that could occur in an addict’s future.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is estimated that there are 500,000 heroin addicts in the United States. Drug Treatment and Rehab Centers of Long Beach is committed to helping those who struggle with drug addiction find effective drug addiction treatment options in the southern California area. Finding the right treatment programs can be a stressful process and we help those families who are struggling to find their loved ones help. We offer free consultation to anyone who calls and is seeking help looking for drug addiction treatment. If you have a loved one who is struggling with drug addiction and is in need of addiction treatment, please do not hesitate to call. You can reach us at (714) 589-2811. Our helpline is open 24/7 and our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment program for you.

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