Dear Aunt Agony... How Long Does a Heroin Addict Live?

Dear A.A, how long does a heroin addict live? What is the life expectancy of a heroin addict? (Anon arrived through such a search term)

Aren't Agony Says:

Hey Anon Searcher,

It's not an easy question to answer and I can only do so in a very general fashion. I guess the average life of an addict (through my experience) is around 45 years. However, that's speaking about street addicts. If we refer to people who are on long term prescribed heroin (for certain illnesses, disabilities) then their life span is not affected by the drug. Their mortality rate is as good/bad as anyone else's (as long as they're not being dripped heroin for a terminal disease). It's not really the heroin that kills but the diseases, infections, bacteria that gets into the body with the smack. Also, and this is VERY important, life expectancy is ONLY around 45 years for needle addicts. Someone smoking or snorting heroin will have the same life expectancy as someone who's never used heroin before. More than the heroin, future and historical studies will show that most addicts died prematurely from: HIV, Hepatitis, and lung and heart infections. The Overdose is kinda a romantic myth and most addicts just aren't that lucky. The majority waste away to nothing in some grotty hospital gown, in an even grottier hospital with not a soul to even bring them in a fix.


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sub said...

i read in a book recently about a womens prison in Bangkok where it was mentioned about the guards on the AIDS disliked heroin being used by those on the wing because it was believed it made the AIDS victims live longer. the book was called 'forget you had a daughter'.
those with a clean daily dose might even live longer than those without. those with a clean daily supply certainly look younger (unless they use alot of crack/speed too) and its known we rarely get colds and when we do get a particularly bad one its always knocked down a few pegs because of the opiates.

sub said...

^that was meant to read 'the guards on the AIDS wing ^

Shane Levene said...

HEY Sub... well from my observations and experience that is absolutely true. i can't speak of how effective heroin is against the symptoms of AIDS, but I do know, and most heroin addicts will agree, that heroin is a great subduer of common viruses and illnesses. During my first seven year unbroken stint og addiction i did not fall ill once (outside of junk sickness), never suffered toothache or any medical problems. The moment I stopped, within a year, I had a host of symptoms and problems most humans would regularly suffer from. I'm not sure how much heroin prevents these common problems rather than masks their presence. For example, this year I had a bad bronchitis. When i used heroin it would completely disappear and I would feel completely normal. Once the heroin wore off I was terribly ill again. But of course none of this is breaking news. Heroin was first marketed as the great "cure all". In regards to keeping you looking young, it does, as long as the habit is stable. Once the body starts going through regular stints of withdrawal and suffering from the exertions of that, the body quickly falls to pieces and ages rapidly. So there is a lot of truth in what you've commented, though whether heroin is really doing anything other than masking all symptoms is hard to say. X

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered about this. I worked in a treatment center and was always amazed by the sort of uber-mensch thing addicts had going. Alcohol even, they'd look so young. With H, I wonder if it's the constant dopamine release some how boosts the immune system? Or is it that they're just high and never feel it? My coworker is sober 16 years, smokes a pack a day and still never got sick. Of course there is a whole host of medical problems that go with use, that a non user wouldn't ordinarily get ie hepatitis C

Leslie Lim said...

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