Alcohol use by heroin addicts 12 years after drug abuse treatment

J Stud Alcohol. 1990 May;51(3):233-44. doi: 10.15288/jsa.1990.51.233.


Follow-up interviews on a sample of 298 ex-heroin addicts 12 years after they entered treatment were used to examine alcohol use and substitution of alcohol for heroin. Almost one-fourth of the sample were classified as heavy drinkers in Year 12, and half had previously used alcohol in a substitution pattern. Classifications into one of three substitution groups (none, low and high) and multivariate analysis of variance were carried out to identify background and baseline factors related to substitution and long-term behavioral outcomes 12 years after entering treatment. Substitution was found to be related to higher levels of alcohol problems and treatment before addiction, parental alcohol problems, to vulnerability to peer influence in starting drug use and to feelings of rejection by peers during adolescence. In terms of 12-year outcomes, substitution was related to more use of nonopioid drugs, more heavy drinking and alcohol-related problems and more psychological dysfunction symptoms (such as depression). These results showed a strong relationship between substitution and preaddiction as well as postaddiction alcohol abuse. However, to delineate the effects of substitution apart from the effects of previous alcohol abuse, additional analyses were computed in which substitution was examined after controlling for previous alcohol abuse. The results confirmed the validity of substitution as a powerful construct in identifying behavioral differences before and after addition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heroin Dependence / complications
  • Heroin Dependence / psychology
  • Heroin Dependence / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Problems