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Course and outcome of drug abuse and medical and social conditions in selected young drug abusers.

  • Benson, G
Published Article
Acta psychiatrica Scandinavica
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1985
PMID: 3871549


The course and outcome of drug abuse and medical and social conditions were investigated by following--in some aspects for up to 10 years--selected groups of young drug abusers who had had contact with health care and social welfare authorities in Gothenburg at the end of the 1960's. The follow-up was carried out by studying different registers and through interviews. The abusers were compared with a control group matched in terms of sex, age and daily sickness allowance. Abuse of cannabis predominated (2:1) over heavier drugs (primarily central stimulants i.v.) in the out-patient materials, while the reverse was the case in the in-patient material. About 40% of the drug users were interviewed and judged to be representative of their groups. After 4-6 years, 36-49% of the males and 23-48% of the females in the different materials were found registered as drug abusers; 22-38% of the men and 11-19% of the women were found after 8-10 years. According to the interviews, drug abuse persisted in 56-71% of the men and 26-60% of the women after 4-6 years and in 44-69% of the men and 13-36% of the women after 7-9 years. Abuse of cannabis persisted more often than abuse of heavier drugs, and had a lower mortality. Between 40 and 55% of drug abuse in the out-patient material, as well as among males in the social welfare material, was hidden during the follow-up period. The hidden abuse involved primarily cannabis; abuse of heavier drugs was generally known to the health care or social welfare authorities. Repeated or lengthy sick leave was more common than in the control group. In-patient adult psychiatric treatment was common among those in the health care material, although 40% of those in the social welfare material had also received such treatment. A diagnosis of drug abuse clearly predominated. Treatment of hepatitis was noted for 30-40%. More than 90% of drug abusers were registered with the social welfare authorities compared with less than half of the controls. Possession of driving licence was less common and the males had less often completed basic military training. The majority of those not registered for drug abuse after 4-6 years were employed or studying, and had considerably less need for social welfare and sick leave than those who were registered.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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