April 1973

A Pilot Study of Occasional Heroin Users

Author Affiliations

Cambridge, Mass
From the Psychology Service, University Health Services, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;28(4):586-594. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.01750340104016

A pilot study was carried out to learn more about occasional heroin users. Subjects were 12 largely middle-class young adults from intact families with no history of addiction. Extensive interviewing and testing was carried out. Test data showed them to be of above average intelligence and highly anxious. They scored below the mean of college students on well-being, socialization, maturity, responsibility, and achievement via conformance, and were above average on achievement via independence and flexibility. Interview data suggested reasons for occasional heroin use were self-medication, facilitation of emotional expression, and to enhance the sense of competence. Other data indicate many individuals seem to be able to maintain intermittent use without becoming addicted. Two factors that may militate against addiction are their environment and friends.