4101.1: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - Board 4

Abstract #9914

Health of heroin and cocaine/crack addicts

Mari P. Millery, MA1, Paula H. Kleinman, PhD1, and Michael Scimeca, MD2. (1) Sociomedical Sciences, Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, 600 West 168th Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10040, 212-305-6821, mm994@columbia.edu, (2) St. Barnabas Hospital, Bronx, NY

The medical model of substance abuse views drug addiction as an illness. It is generally assumed and often stated that drug addiction leads to having other illnesses, but there is surprisingly little systematic research exploring what specific diseases are associated with drug abuse. This study describes the health of a sample of 376 predominantly Hispanic and African American heroin and/or crack/cocaine addicts recruited at two hospital detoxification units in New York City. The measures include general health status, level of functional impairment, and self-reports of medical histories and current physical and mental illnesses. Preliminary results show that compared to population norms, addicts' perceived health status is poorer in all areas, including general health, pain, physical functioning, and vitality. High life-time prevalence was reported by the addicts for a range of illnesses and symptoms, including sleep disorders (50%), respiratory conditions (39%), cardio-vascular disease (25%), suicide attempts (21%), hepatitis (19%), and HIV/AIDS (10%). Different possible causal links between illnesses and drug addiction are discussed, as well as implications for designing health interventions for drug abusers.

Learning Objectives: 1. To know more about other illnesses among heroin and cocaine addicts. 2. To think critically about different causal links between illnesses and drug abuse. 3. To obtain background information for designing health interventions for drug abusers

Keywords: Drug Abuse, Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA