The study authors completed a long term data analysis of almost 5000 youths starting from the early 1990’s, and have examined specifically the age of first experimentation with different substances, and the prevalence of continuing substance use later in life.
The results are unsurprising, and confirm other research done on adolescent drug abuse.
Some of the findings include:
- Sixty percent of teens who start using marijuana before the age of 15 will still be using the drug 8 years later. Only 20% of teens who start after the age of 19 will continue to use 8 years later.
- Boys start using drugs earlier, and with more frequency, and are less likely to stop.
The study authors conclude that early in life prevention programs are of paramount importance, and that waiting until kids are in junior high may well be waiting too late. They note that a significant number of kids are trying alcohol at ages of 10 and 11 and that these kids may never, at this age, have been exposed to any drug or alcohol information. They suggest late elementary school grades as a better time to start drug and alcohol educational programming.
The study results also underscore the importance of drug and alcohol education in the family, and starting from a young age. Our kids are starting to experiment earlier than we realize, yet if we can keep them from this early experimentation, they stand a much better chance to avoid the pains of later in life addiction or alcoholism.