Clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of adolescent heroin users

Philip Clemmey, Lynda Payne, Marc Fishman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Heroin use among adolescents is a major social and health problem, and has been increasing over the past decade, but has not been extensively studied. This study compared characteristics of adolescent heroin users (n = 56) to adolescent non heroin users (n = 93) at entry to short-term residential treatment through 12 months posureatmenl. The heroin group was comprised of more females, older adolescents, and more Caucasians. At baseline, heroin users reported more days of drug use, days high, days not meeting responsibilities, and had more substance abuse and dependence symptoms. Heroin users also showed greater severity on multiple indicators of functional impairment and psychological distress. Although adolescent heroin users appear to represent a distinct subpopulation with multiple indicators of heightened severity, they respond to treatment with significant reductions in drug use, psychological symptoms, illegal activities, and overall psychosocial impairment Furthermore, adolescent heroin users respond to treatment in the same remitting/relapsing pallem as non heroin users, yet their higher severity persists over a 12 month follow-up period. Further research is needed to generalize these findings to other sellings, and to guide the development and evaluation of treatment options for adolescent heroin users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of psychoactive drugs
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Adolescent
  • Drug abuse
  • Heroin
  • Opiate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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