Younger age of first cannabis use or prescription drug misuse is associated with faster development of substance use disorders
A new study shows that in the time after first trying cannabis or first misusing prescription drugs, the percentages of young people who develop the corresponding substance use disorder are higher among adolescents (ages 12-17) than young adults (ages 18-25). In addition, 30 percent of young adults develop a heroin use disorder and 25 percent develop a methamphetamine use disorder a year after first using heroin or methamphetamine. These findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics, emphasize the vulnerability of young people to developing substance use disorders.
The study was led by researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.
“We know that young people are more vulnerable to developing substance use disorders, but knowledge is limited on how the prevalence of specific substance use disorders varies by time since first substance use or misuse among adolescents and young adults in the United States,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, M.D., NIDA Director and a lead author of the analysis. “Though not everyone who uses a drug will develop addiction, adolescents may develop addiction to substances faster than young adults. This study provides further evidence that delaying substance exposure until the brain is more fully developed may lower risk for developing a substance use disorder.”
This page was last updated on Friday, January 21, 2022