Title

Reconceptualizing Early and Late Onset: A Life Course Analysis of Older Heroin Users

Department

Sociology & Criminal Justice

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2008

Abstract

Purpose: Researchers’ knowledge regarding older users of illicit drugs is limited despite the increasing numbers of users. In this article, we apply a life course perspective to gain a further understanding of older adult drug use, specifically contrasting early and late-onset heroin users. Design and Methods: We collected qualitative data from 29 older heroin users. Life course analysis focused on the users’ experiences across the life span. Results: The findings suggest that those aging into heroin use (late onset) are disadvantaged compared to those who are maturing in (early onset) except in areas of health. Implications: We propose that conceptualizing the use of heroin and other illicit drugs among older adults based on the user’s life course trajectory will provide insights for social and health services, including drug treatment.

Journal

The Gerontologist

Journal ISSN

0016-9013

Volume

48

Issue

5

First Page

637

Last Page

645

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1093/geront/48.5.637