Variations in the accomplishment of persistent heroin use in Wales: a typology of users’ lifestyles

Morgan, James and Bennett, Trevor (2021) Variations in the accomplishment of persistent heroin use in Wales: a typology of users’ lifestyles. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 29 (2). pp. 130-9130. ISSN 1465-3370


Much of the previous qualitative research on heroin users has focused on the progression and inevitable decline of a heroin using career or the struggles and setbacks of small single groups of heroin users. Much less attention has been paid to the ability of heroin users to successfully integrate heroin use into their broader lifestyles. We build on this literature by offering a contemporary view of the lives of heroin users in the United Kingdom that examines the role of heroin-using lifestyles in the accomplishment of persistent heroin use.

The research was based on a sample of 51 current or recent heroin users recruited from a needle exchange programme and low threshold drug service operating in Wales in the United Kingdom. The interviews were semi-structured and covered topics listed in an interview schedule.

The analysis of users' narratives identified four unique types of lifestyle: 'Domestic users', 'Top boys', 'On-the-wander' and 'On-the-run'.

The typology of heroin-using lifestyles presented shows that heroin users’ needs and abilities are variable and that a drug strategy tailored to their lifestyles might be beneficial. Aspects of heroin users’ lifestyles comprise recovery capital that could be drawn upon as part of the treatment process.

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