College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Full Title of Thesis or Dissertation

Live and let die: opiate overdose deaths in Chicago

Graduation Date

6-2010

Document Type

Thesis

College/Department Conferring Degree

Sociology

Keywords

opiate, overdoes, deaths, chicago, narcotics

Abstract

The use of narcotics, particularly opiates, is a health and social problem that is prevalent worldwide. One serious outcome of opiate overdose is death. Chicago is an important urban center that has serious opiate overdose-induced death problem that is not clearly understood. The purpose of this study is to better understand factors contributing to death from opiate overdoses, and specifically age at death. To acquire a better understanding of overdose-induced death a comprehensive database of opiate-related deaths in Chicago between 1999 and 2003 was created, including only opiate-overdose incidents. Blacks constituted the largest number of opiate-related deaths. However, we found that, victims who were Black, male, married, and took the combination of heroin and cocaine died at an older age than other people who died of an overdose in our database. By contrast, Hispanics who experienced overdose died at significantly younger ages than others in the database. In addition, we found females and or non-married drug addicts, even if they were Black, lived shorter lives than others in this study. Extended longevity among opiate addicts might indicate the existence of resistance factors to death by opiate overdose. Investigating these factors might contribute to longer life expectancy and lower risk of death among opiate addicts. By identifying specific populations at risk, our results will further help health and policy officials design and implement efficient steps by targeting specific groups and preventing unnecessary deaths through education as well as rehabilitation.

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