Article

The natural history of drug use from adolescence to the mid-thirties in a general population

Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, NY.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.55). 02/1995; 85(1):41-7. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.85.1.41
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

This study sought to describe patterns of initiation, persistence, and cessation in drug use in individuals from their late 20s to their mid-30s, within a broad perspective that spans 19 years from adolescence to adulthood.
A fourth wave of personal interviews was conducted at ages 34-35 with a cohort of men and women (n = 1160) representative of adolescents formerly enrolled in New York State public secondary high schools. A school survey was administered at ages 15-16, and personal interviews with participants and school absentees were conducted at ages 24-25 and 28-29. Retrospective continuous histories of 12 drug classes were obtained at each follow-up.
There was no initiation into alcohol and cigarettes and hardly any initiation into illicit drugs after age 29, the age at which most use ceased. The largest proportion of new users was observed for prescribed psychoactives. Periods of highest use since adolescence based on relative and absolute criteria were delineated. Among daily users, the proportions of heavy users declined for alcohol and marijuana but not for cigarettes.
Cigarettes are the most persistent of any drug used. Drug-focused interventions must target adolescents and young adults.

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    • "Cannabis use typically starts in adolescence, with heaviest use generally reported during the teenage years (Chen and Kandel, 1995). An estimated 17% of 15–16 year olds in Europe and 34% in the United States have taken cannabis at least once (Hibell et al., 2012; Miech et al., 2015). "
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    • "Recent studies of commonly abused drugs have focused on elucidating neurobiological differences between adolescent and adult responses to drug exposure. This is because drug use typically starts during adolescence (Chen & Kandel 1995, Degenhardt et al. 2008, Nelson et al. 1995) when the brain is still developing (Giedd et al. 1999), and adolescents respond differently to drugs as compared to adults in ways that appear to increase their risk for dependence (Schramm-Sapyta et al. 2009, Zakharova et al. 2009, Collins & Izenwasser 2002, Laviola et al. 1999). Cocaine use often begins in adolescence and can lead to long-lasting impacts on quality of life (Lawrence et al. 2008, Weiss et al. 2001, Koob & Volkow 2010). "
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    • "undergraduate drinking patterns. Although the majority of U.S. college students are younger than the legal drinking age of 21, periods of heavy alcohol consumption are most often reported during the ages of 18–21 (Chen and Kandel 1995). Recent research demonstrates that undergraduates report drinking more heavily than their non-college peers (Johnston et al. 2012). "
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