Older Addicts Lose Will to Live

By Cooki · Nov 18, 2009 · Updated Nov 18, 2009 · ·
  1. Cooki
    [h1]Older addicts 'lose will to live' [/h1]
    _46746867_003326111-1.jpg Almost half last year's 574 drug deaths were among over 35s

    Research to be published in Glasgow suggests rates of suicide among addicts aged over 35 may be higher than previously thought. The Scottish Drugs Forum, (SDF) said older drug users need more support.
    Of 55,000 chaotic drug users in Scotland, 15,000 or more than 25%, are believed to be 35 or over but they have said services often ignore their needs.

    SDF chief executive David Liddell, said they have been taking drugs for so long, they have simply given up.

    The older addicts, who are known as the Trainspotting generation from the film starring Ewan McGregor, began drug taking in the late 1980s or 1990s.
    They account for almost half of all of last year's 574 drugs-related deaths.
    Of those deaths, 174, (30%) were among 35 to 44-year-olds and 97, (17%) involved people over 45.

    Suicidal thoughts
    The findings - taken from surveys of more than 70 drug users and professionals involved in their care - show that the more life-experienced group of problem drug users can frequently be overwhelmed by a combination of past experiences and future barriers which impede their ability to overcome their drug dependency.
    More than half the older users interviewed by SDF admitted they had had suicidal thoughts.

    According to SDF Director David Liddell, this raises new questions about the true nature of drug-related deaths statistics in Scotland which in 2008 reached two record high levels - a total of 574 for all drug-related deaths, including the new high of 370 drug-related deaths among people known to have had a drug problem.

    He said: "We estimate there are about 15,000 older drug users in Scotland, making up about 27% of the 55,000 people with a drug problem in Scotland.
    "Yet older drug users aged 35 and over made up 44% (or 162) of the 370 people whose deaths in 2008 were drugs-related and who were known to have a drug problem.

    "We also know that long term trends are showing that older drugs users are becoming bigger in percentage terms among the numbers of problem drug users. The percentage of older drug users dying a drug-related death is also increasing steadily.

    "What is becoming clear is that older drug users can be badly affected by a range of issues affecting their outlook on life and thus their will to live."

    Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/8365129.stm
    Date: 18th November 2009

    See thread: "Why are there no Old Addicts?"

    Share This Article


  1. Potter
    <edit> I was making a crack about the fact that 500 people out of 50,000 is hardly a valid statistic. Sure, it sucks that 500 some people dies from drug use, but that's only 1% of the drug using population. How many of those 50,000 people died from cars, heart attacks, what have you. And seeing that there's more older drug users dying then younger ones, not really surprising at all.

    It's a massively sensationalistic article, and seeing the conclusion "drugs make you give up life" seems hella shakey. I'd like to see the statistics of non drug user deaths in the scottish population before thinking "OMG how horrible" Because people die, it's part of living.
  2. pharmacy bandit
    this article rocked my socks as you can imagine from my new member intro..true "F-ing" that!!!!
  3. pharmacy bandit
    P.s, signed "pharmacy bandit"
  4. missparkles
    Apologies for my skepticism, but might it have been the long term effects of heavy drug use that compromised their health, making what might have been a safe dose ten years ago, a dangerously risky dose today?

    Also, if it is true that long term addicts are just giving up, seeing themselves as so damaged they cannot recover, would the growing trend to prescribe diamorphine for these long term addicts, not just re-enforce this view?

  5. anonuser30500
    The report does not explain the economic links to suicide. The so called 'Trainspotting generation' were based on the experiences of working class addicts in poor areas. Could have been any major town or city in the UK.

    The older addicts in these areas must feel depressed with all the heroin dealers aged 20 or so. Those on state benefits basically scrape together enough for maybe £20 worth per day, more if funds are available.

    If those same addicts were taken onboard a legal programme to supply pure heroin I would hazard a guess that many would have a brighter outlook on life.
  6. catseye
    Apparently heroin addicts are 14 times more likely than their non-using peers to commit suicide regardless of age :( There was some research 5 or 6 years ago into the possible links but it didn't seem to go anywhere unfortunately. One other scary statistic was that the cumulative risk of death for heroin users over 50 years old was 53% - nothing was said in that particular study about the general long term effects of drug use on health though (as swiSparkles mentioned).

    S Darke & J Ross, 2002. 'Suicide among heroin users: rates, risk factors and methods'. Addiction, Vol 97, issue 11.
  7. missparkles
    Well it wouldn't would it? If it did then it would add fuel to the call for purer drugs such as diamorph wouldn't it? Do you imagine that ingesting impure drugs for year after year is not gonna affect your health? Any addict of 15-20+ years has had abscesses, possibly a couple of close calls with ODs (if not gone over totally), had non drug related health issues that haven't been treated as soon as they should have been.

    Firstly cos addicts are always frightened to access health services in case it gets back to their doc and their script is stopped, or they're in some way blamed for their health condition, or even cos they don't have time to attend a doctors cos their using lifestyle (financing, scoring and using) leaves no time to wait at a doctors/hospital for perhaps 2 hours upwards?

    Secondly because a lot of minor illnesses are left untreated. They have a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle which lowers their immune system to the extent that they are a prime target for more infections and diseases they come into contact with. As they age this gets worse. Sparkles has seen addicts sit and lance an abscess with a fuckin' pin (needle) squeeze the shit out, cover it with a plaster and carry on as if there's nothing wrong, rather than go to a doctor and get a fuckin' lecture.

    And the main thing to consider (especially where Sparkles lives) is most doctors require a questionnaire to be filled out before they accept you. If you have a history of drug abuse most won't take you. They have notices pinned up in their surgeries specifying they do not give Temazepam, Diazepam, or any opiates at their practice. Of course they do to legitimate non junkie patients. Those notices are a warning to anyone who abuses drugs "not bother to ask for them."

  8. catseye
    Oh I totally agree with your point...hope it didn't appear that catseye was doubting sparkles! And catseye finds that truly horrifying re: the posters in GP surgeries in Sparkles area - talk about heavy handed stigmatisation. So what are the realistic health care options for addicts who seek med treatment for secondary issues like abscesses, etc? (sorry if that is taking the thread OT?)
  9. missparkles
    Most leave it until it's unbearable, believing if they ignore it, it will go away, and self medicating with heroin eases the need to seek help. If treatment is needed they go to the hospital and if it's possible the abscess is drained, they're given antibiotics, and a weeks supply of codeine.

    Sparkles knew a bloke who left his abscess so long he was admitted to hospital for over two weeks with septicemia. When he was discharged the wound was still swollen, he was given dressings, antibiotics and codeine, and told that if he continued to inject heroin he could expect more abscesses.

  10. catseye
    Thank you Sparkles. How crap that an infection that could most likely be sorted by a visit to the GP turns into a hospital visit/stay in part due to fear of the very system that is providing the treatment.
  11. mickey_bee
    Although swim is pretty young, he finds himself feeling more and more hopeless about his addiction each time he fails/relapses.
    There's only so much a human can take; obviously it differs with every individual, but if someone goes through the pain of trying to get their life back on track, and then goes right back to square one again, well, there's only so many times this process can repeat itself before one simply loses hope.

    It's a completely natural human reaction, everyone has their limits.
    Swim knows of many older addicts who have given up trying, simply because they've tried and failed so many times in the past. All they do now is try their best to keep themselves well, but to be honest, it won't be long before many of them give up on life altogether.

    For these people, diamorphine prescriptions, whilst not getting them clean, would improve their quality of life dramatically, and subsequently their mental positivity, something which is essential in order to either keep fighting, or just keep alive.
    Additionally, swim personally believes that a diamorphine script will not prolong the addiction of someone at all. If anything it gives the user enough time to build stability in their lives, and then look at their addiction from a comfortable place, where they can think rationally and sensibly about stopping, when they're ready.

    The hope this would give to so many addicts would be incredible, not to mention the amount of lives saved.

    Swim has a friend who was previously an alcoholic, then found heroin, and has now left the drink, and gone onto heroin. He has been approved for the diamorphine prescription program.
    When swim first used to see him, he really was at the end of his tether. He had no hope of getting clean, he didn't even have the energy to hate life;he just didn't care anymore. The only thing that kept him alive was the thought of doing his next shot.

    Since he has been approved for the diamorphine script, (even though he's not yet on it due to low blood pressure), he has completely changed as a person. For the first time in years, he has hope for the future. He actually deep down believes he'll be able to get clean soon. He'll be able to live a life like everyone else.

    Being offered this program has literally saved this mans life, and even moreso, given him a quality of life that he, (or I), never believed would be attained again.
  12. EyesOfTheWorld
    SWIM is caught between, I guess, the "Trainspotting Generation" and what in the US was the mid-1990's "Lets just get fucked on anything we can get Generation", as he's 32, and many of his friends and using partners are either much older or much younger.
    He must agree with a point brought up earlier, that it's quite depressing to have to purchase ones DOC from some 20 year old runt that SWIM wouldn't piss on if he was on fire, save to gain access to his pockets while he died (oh, did SWIM mention his abject hatred of the average heroin dealer?). This isn't depressing enough to cause suicidal thought, though. SWIM does wonder where his motivation to hustle himself went, as he used to be one of those people that folks had to go see daily, even when he had a habit. That of course doesn't cause suicide either though.
    However, as we age, simply by way of having more life experience, addicts and non addicts alike experience more shitty things that may drive them to suicide. Non addicts usually have better support systems to help them deal with problems, while addicts usually decide "fuck it, I'll just get high", and if they can't get their DOC for whatever reason, and have to sit there WDing WHILE stewing over whatever went wrong, yeah SWIM can see why the shotgun lunch seens more desireable. SWIM bets that over half of those 574 suicides were final solutions to the temporary problem of just such a crisis (some kind of shit going down, not being able to get the "remedy", and having to think about it whilst involuntarily kicking).
  13. missparkles
    Whilst Sparkles agrees that diamorph scripts will reduce harm, (a pure product) and this in turn will keep addicts healthier, enabling them to possibly live longer, which means they have a better chance of getting to a point where they decide to quit. But methadone also offers this option. It's given to stabilise an addict, preventing them from becoming sick whilst they sort out their life, with a view to quitting in the future.

    It has to be remembered that back in the day addicts prescribed diamorph died just as frequently as they do now, and it had nothing to do with drug purity/impurity, it was because they used other substances in tandem with the diamorph (poly drug use) just as they still do in countries where this form of treatment has been adopted.

    The other thing that concerns Sparkles is that once this treatment has become established will it be seen as such a success that it will then be given to addicts who are not long term users, perhaps just heavy users? Also, would addicts who smoke heroin switch to IV use to obtain a purer drug, after all the impurities in street heroin are damaging to lungs also?

    Sparkles wants to see every addict stay as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, she knows only too well how long it took her to clean up, and the soul destroying feeling every time she relapsed. But it was the relapses that taught her what she needed to learn to enable her to get clean eventually. And she thinks that eventually, if an addict is lucky to live long enough, the pleasure gained from their drug use is heavily outweighed by the negative shit they've accumulated along the way. Which can be a great motivation to quit.

    Also even non drug users become less healthy as they age, their body functions less reliably as it naturally wears out, so this could also have a massive impact on the psychological aspect of an addict, people who are non drug users get depressed when they're sick too, and some of them decide to end it.

    But again, her main reason for having concerns about giving diamorph to long term "hard core" addicts is the subtle message it is giving them. You're saying "sorry mate, but you're so fuckin' damaged, there's no hope for you so here, have diamorph, there's no point in trying to help you, lets make your last days as healthy and comfortable as possible."

    And this is something Sparkles refuses believe. However damaged a person is by life circumstances, there is always hope. Regardless of how long an addict has been using they should never be told they matter so little that they're not worth helping. After all, that's just what their addiction has been telling them all their using life. Everyone has value. No one is so broken they can't be, or are not worthy to be helped, to fix themselves.

  14. mickey_bee
    Whilst swim understands what your saying Sparkles, and can totally see your point of view, he really does think that diamorphine prescriptions should be available to addicts after other treatment routes have been exhausted. Simply for the vast amount of lives it would improve and save.

    Methadone, while being intended to serve the same purpose, (stabilise the addict, get them away from the street scene and hopefully eventually clean altogether), it really isn't very successful at doing this.

    Almost everyone swim knows at his methadone clinic use heroin regularly on top, with about a third of these people still using daily, committing crimes to fund their habit, and essentially living in just as chaotic a situation as prior to them getting hooked on the states opiate, methadone.

    If methadone worked, everything would be fine, this article wouldn't exist. The fact is, that in many cases, methadone doesn't stabilise the addict.

    Swim does agree that the shit of the lifestyle that is junkie is indeed a major motivation to quit. For some people it is that which eventually gets them off and keeps them off. However, for alot of other people, while still enduring an utterly shit life, they still can't shake off their addiction, and are basically stuck in a limbo of despair and failure.

    Swim doesn't really share your interpretation of a diamorphine script being a sign that the individual is a 'no-hoper'. It is simply another route of treatment. One which keeps the addict alot safer, along with the general public.

    No one wants to be tied down to any substance for the rest of their lives. People end up in this situation because they feel they have no other option. As swiy will no only too well, no matter how shit a person's life is when involved with the street scene, that rarely provides the impetus to give up altogether. For most addicts, they find themselves stuck in the cycle of shit for years and years and years before eventually they possibly manage to get off, and stay off.

    As such, a diamorphine script really can't be seen as a means of elongating the addiction. No matter how shit the individual's situation is, they can and will only give up when deep deep down they want to.
    Subsequently, how tough life is for an addict seems to have little bearing on their success rate in recovery.
    Swim does not see diamorphine prescription as, 'giving up'. In fact, he doesn't even see it as solely a maintenance-based treatment. As the various recent pilot studies have shown, the majority of addicts given this treatment voluntarily chose to begin reducing their dosage, on average, much sooner than the average addict will choose to reduce their methadone dosage. It is not in human nature to enjoy being tied down to a substance.

    Swim does accept that for some addicts, given this option they would remain on the script for the rest of their lives. However, how many addicts remain in the limbo of methadone and street heroin use for the rest of their lives? Quite a few. And the whole time they're purely taking from society, damaging themselves severely, dieing prematurely, and generally living a pathetic quality of life.

    By all means, this is no ideal solution, and there are obviously problems and issues that arise with it's implementation. As swiy mentioned, what if smokers chose to start injecting with a view eventually obtaining a pure prescription? Although from swim's personal experience, the smokers, (provided they're not early on in their habits), stick religiously to smoking, as the injectors do to injecting. Incidentally, they used to prescribe smokeable heroin to addicts as well as the injectable amps, aswell as crack and cocaine. It proved to be extremely successful. Dr.marks' clinic in Widnes was the last in the UK as far as swim can remember. But aside from this, there obviously are issues with this form of treatment. It's not perfect.

    But the current treatments sure as hell ain't perfect either. Swim would say that diamorphine prescription, to long-term addicts, following other treatment options have been exhausted, would be far far far closer to perfect than the current, 'leave 'em on methadone or lock 'em up' approach. Both to the individual and society.
  15. dyingtomorrow
    For SWIM, there is no hope except an (IV) hydromorphone or diamorphine prescription. There's literally nothing left for him to try. The only thing that keeps him alive is the hope of getting money again someday and the possibility of being able to live again in the future - which to him means being on heroin. There's so many things he wants to do, and he knows he could contribute something great to society and humanity; but he can't even begin to think or work towards something like that in the horror of his "sober" mental state. SWIM wishes methadone did the trick, but it doesn't. He doesn't need heroin because it's "heroin," he needs it because whatever that chemical is is the only thing that makes him feel like a normal, healthy, functional human being.

    SWIM thinks if heroin prescriptions were available to addicts, simply put, the street market would eventually dry up, and the number of new addicts would fall dramatically. Honestly, what heroin addict who has to go to a clinic would tell his friends - "man this is great, you should try and get hooked on heroin so you can come to the clinic." The middle ground of heroin addicts, which comprises the vast majority, would fall out; leaving only the people with extreme issues who can only find happiness with heroin able to get along normally in life and contribute to society again. Rather than being forced (if they wish to live, and not go the suicide route of so many addicts) to harm and drain it.
  16. Rin_Weh
    There needs to be multi-layered treatments available aswell. It's all well and fine if methadone helps someone kick another habit but eventually they'll have to learn how to cope without the methadone aswell. There needs to be tools and aide in place to help cope outside of harmful addictions while the person is being weened from whichever chemical.
    Also, enviroment. It's hard when you're full of hope, your body is cleaned out and then you come back to the same enviroment that catered to the lifestyle.
    I realize ultimately it's the addicts choice, however, like eating disorders or any addiction, the cycles are easy to become trapped in.
    Either the addiction itself is what triggers the depression, or the depression triggers the addiction, but they overlap constantly until it's hard to remember the origin or it's hard to discern at all which is which.
    I'm lucky to live where I live where I have the option of medical care for detox, therapy and also a government that will support me if I needed financial assistance to move and begin a new life but it makes me sad that not everyone has this support available to them.
    But I agree with the message of Hope. I'm not experienced in most of the matters you all speak of but I think the feelings experienced here are universal and can be applied to all of us on some level-
    People need to realize they weren't born to die from this- therefore they have the right and the ability to live free.
    I realize government is not God or any deity in any form but so many countries and citizens therein need to recognize the need for support. And those who are in dire need of support need to recognize they deserve it.
To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!