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A Comparative Study of Characteristics and Risky Behaviors Among the Iranian Opium and Opium Dross Addicts

Noohi, Sima MD; Azar, Mahyar MD; Behzadi, Ashkan Heshmatzade MD; Sedaghati, Mahsa MD; Panahi, Sepideh Akbari MD; Dehghan, Nasir MD; Honarbakhsh, Yasamin MD; Akasheh, Amirpoya MD; Tahoori, Armin MD; Wilson, Denis MS

Journal of Addiction Medicine: March 2011 - Volume 5 - Issue 1 - p 74-78
doi: 10.1097/ADM.0b013e3181db69ef
Original Research

Background: Iran ranks first per capita in the use of opiates, but we have little information about possible differences regarding the 2 most commonly used illicit drugs, namely opium and its dross (residue).

Design: This is a cross-sectional study.

Setting: A cross-sectional study about drug abuse and drug dependence in Iran was conducted from April 2006 to August 2008 in the prisons of 28 Iranian provinces, in the treatment centers, and in the streets.

Participants: To pursue the objectives of this research, participants included 2979 opiate addicts including opium users (n = 2636) and dross users (n = 343), who were not significantly different by gender (P = 0.269) or age (P = 0.452).

Measurements: An anonymous questionnaire was completed through an interview that gathered sociodemographic characteristics and information about some high-risk behaviors.

Result: By the end of the study, we concluded that dross addicts, in comparison with opium addicts, were mostly immigrants from rural areas to urban areas (P = 0.031 χ2 test, 95% confidence interval [CI]), mostly uneducated, illiterate, or semiliterate (P = 0.04 χ2 test, 95% CI), had illegal occupations (P = 0.048 χ2 test, 95% CI), were cigarette smokers (P < 0.000 χ2 test, 95% CI), and had experienced drug injections (P = 0.032 χ2 test, 95% CI) and drug overdose (P = 0.007 χ2 test, 95% CI). They also had a history of hospital admission within the preceding year because of drug overdose (P < 0.000) and a record of being arrested and jailed in the past year (P = 0.028 χ2 test, 95% CI).

Conclusion: These results indicated the need for more intensive and effective care for the opioid addicts in Iran.

From the Department of Psychiatry, Behavioral Research Center (SN), Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran; Department of Psychiatry, Shaheed Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Health Services (MA), Tehran, Iran; Department of Psychiatry, Behavioral Science Research Center (MS), Brunnel University West London, Uxbridge, West London, United Kingdom; Behavioral Research Center, Psychiatry Department, Iran University of Medical Sciences (AHB, SAP, ND, YH, AA, AT), Tehran, Iran; and Psychology Department, San Fransisco State University (DW), San Fransisco, CA.

Received for publication October 11, 2009; accepted March 1, 2010.

Send correspondence and reprint requests to Ashkan Heshmatzade Behzadi, No. 5/2, Amir Hamzeh, Alamdari Street, Bahar Shomali Avenue, 7th Tir Sq., Tehran 15647-67411, Iran. e-mail:

© 2011 American Society of Addiction Medicine