Criminal convictions among dependent heroin users during a 3-year period prior to opioid maintenance treatment: A longitudinal national cohort study
This study investigates frequency and types of criminal convictions among a national sample of heroin users during a 3-year period prior to opioid maintenance treatment (OMT).
All heroin users (N = 3,789) in Norway who applied for and were eligible for OMT (1997–2003) were included. The OMT records were cross-linked to Norwegian crime statistics. During observation, 24,478 convictions were recorded among 60.9% of the sample. Differences of criminal convictions were found within the group; a large proportion (39.1%) had no convictions, whereas 10% of the sample was responsible for 37.8% of all convictions. Convictions for acquisitive crimes and drug crimes were the most common. Variations in the cohort's individual crime sequences were found. The heavy involvement of heroin users with the criminal justice system provides an opportunity to intervene with dependent offenders. Coordination between treatment providers and police or courts can play an important role in improving outcomes through better access to treatment.