The impact of Vietnam service on heroin-addicted veterans

Jim Mintz, Charles P. O'brien, Beverly Pomerantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Age-matched samples of Vietnam veterans and veterans who did not serve in Vietnam were surveyed at the time that they applied for treatment of heroin addiction. Vietnam veterans were more likely to have begun using heroin during their military service, and they were more likely to say that their service experiences had affected their use of drugs, usually citing relief of fear and tensions of war. Veterans who had not been in Vietnam were somewhat more likely to have begun using drugs after service, and generally indicated that their military experiences had not affected their drug use. When they did cite an effect of service, the factors usually indicated were boredom and a lack of meaningful activity. Attitudes toward narcotic use were negative in both groups, but significantly less so among Vietnam veterans. However, these attitudes did not relate to patterns of current or past drug use. Groups did not differ in the extent of or reasons for current illicit drug use, but non-Vietnam veterans reported more alcohol use. The Vietnam war was mentioned by one Vietnam veteran and by no non-Vietnam veterans as a reason for continuing narcotic use. Few other differences were found. Notably, typical treatment course over a 5-year follow-up period was similar in the two study groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-52
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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