Aim: We extend the literature on the association of early onset of drug use and estimated risk for developing a substance use disorder (SUD) by investigating the risk that recent onset of alcohol and cannabis use confers for developing a substance use disorder at each chronological age of adolescence and young adulthood (12-21-years-old). Design: Using 2003 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health [Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), 2004. Overview of Findings from the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-24, DHHS Publication No. SMA-04-3963, Rockville, MD], we computed separate risk indices for developing an alcohol and cannabis use disorder for recent (prior 2 years) alcohol and cannabis users, respectively, at each age from 12 to 21 years of age, and compared estimated risk to recent onsets users among respondents aged 22-26. Findings: The results indicated that the teenage years were strongly linked to an elevated risk status. The odds ratio (OR) of having a prior year alcohol use disorder (AUD) among recent onset alcohol users was significantly elevated for youth at ages 14, 16, 17 and 18 (range of ORs = 2.0-2.1) compared to the estimated risk for AUD among recent onset users aged 22-26. For cannabis, we obtained significantly elevated ORs for a cannabis use disorder (CUD) at each of teenage years (ages 12-18; range of ORs = 3.9-7.2), when compared to older recent onset users (aged 22-26). Conclusions: These data provide further epidemiological support that adolescence is a particularly vulnerable period for developing a SUD.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by NIDA award K02DA15347 (Winters). NIDA had no role in the study design, data analysis, interpretation of the data, or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.
- Early onset alcohol and cannabis use
- Estimated risk for a substance use disorder