Demographic and clinical characteristics of "world traveler" addicts in Asia have been described in a previous paper. In order to understand more about this group, the 56 American and European addicts seen in Laos were compared to 100 American addicts from Minneapolis matched for age, sex, and year of admission to treatment. "World traveler" addicts tended to be older, better educated, and more apt to be single than this sample of "stay at home" addicts. In comparison to the latter, "travelers" began using narcotic drugs at an older age, became addicted more rapidly, and sought treatment earlier. They were also exposed to more inexpensive, readily available narcotic drugs than the "at home" addicts. These data suggest that exposure to inexpensive, readily available narcotic drugs can result in addiction among a group of people who had previously been refractory to narcotic addiction in their own culture. Loneliness and sociocultural isolation appeared to accelerate the rate at which the average "traveler" moved from nonaddictive use to addiction. Further comparisons to other samples of "at home" addicts will be needed to demonstrate whether these findings are due to "travel" per se or to demographic factors.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported in part by the Minnesota Medical Foundation, the International Programs Office at the university of Minnesota, and NIDA grant number 5 TO1 DA00023(02) and 1 R01 DA01599(01).