Patterns of illicit drug use among patients in an adolescent medical service

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    • Abstract:
      The objective of this work is to describe the prevalence of various types of illicit drug use among adolescents treated in a comprehensive ambulatory medical service, located in a lower-middle and low-income area of New York City. About 65% of the patients are Medicaid eligible. 44% are of Puerto Rican or other Latin American origin. 5% could be termed “hippies”. 45% are boys. A review of records of 523 patients registered in a 16 month period shows that 31% are known to be seriously involved with drugs other than marijuana. These are patients not referred to our service for a drug problem, but, for various medical conditions or routine examinations. 19% of our patients use heroin; 9% use barbiturates and other depressants; 7% use amphetamine and other stimulant pills (“ups”); 6% use LSD or mescaline; 5% use methedrine by injection (“speed”). Mixed use is common. 37% of these drug abusers are 16 years of age or younger. 60% are boys. 36% of the drug users are of Puerto Rican or other Latin American origin. 13% are “hippies”. The majority live at home and attend school. Information concerning patterns of use, means of acquiring drugs, attitudes and knowledge of effects, based on in-depth interviews with about 40 drug users, will be discussed.