Home > Irish drug abusers I: their social background.

Carr, AJ and Hart, Ian and Kelly, Michael G (1980) Irish drug abusers I: their social background. Irish Medical Journal, 73, (12), pp. 453-457.

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This article, the first in a series of three, examined the social backgrounds of a cohort of 100 drug abusers. All three papers reported on a research project organised by the Economic and Social Research Institute in conjunction with the Jervis Street Drug Advisory and Treatment Centre. All subjects included in the investigation had attended the drug advisory and treatment centre for the first time between November 1977 and February 1979.

Drug abusers were defined as individuals who, as a result of taking psychoactive drugs, had suffered medical, psychological or social complications. Data about their backgrounds were collected using a detailed interview schedule, which examined demographic, familial, educational, occupational, legal and drug abusive history. The cohort predominantly comprised single males, was over-representative of the lower middle class, and the majority were under 26 years of age. Those identified as 'drug abusers' were found to be more likely to come from families of above average size, with a high level of familial problems, and the majority were found to have left school at 16 years of age. A high level of unemployment was noted among the subjects, and in a large number of cases, the researchers suggested, drug misuse may have been a contributing factor to the stunting of educational or vocational development. A high level of non-drug-related, non-violent criminal behaviour prior to drug abuse was also noted, with a significant increase in the number of non-drug-related non-violent convictions subsequent to beginning to misuse drugs.

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