When pot use starts in teens, drug addiction is more likely: study | Health info


By Robert Preidt, health day reporter

(Health Day)

TUESDAY, March 30, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Teens who try marijuana or other drugs are at greater risk of developing drug addiction than those who wait a few years before experimenting with drugs, according to a new study.

“While not everyone who uses a drug becomes addicted, adolescents can develop addiction to substances more quickly than young adults,” said study co-lead author Dr. Nora Volkow. She is the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in the United States.

“We know that young people are more vulnerable to developing substance use disorders, but knowledge is limited about how the prevalence of specific substance use disorders varies over time from first use. or substance misuse among adolescents and young adults in the United States,” she noted. .

“This study provides further evidence that delaying exposure to the substance until the brain is more fully developed may reduce the risk of developing a substance use disorder,” Volkow said in a statement. NIDA press.

For the study, Volkow’s team analyzed data from the U.S. National Drug Use and Health Surveys to assess the proportion of adolescents (ages 12 to 17) and young adults (ages 18 to 25) who had addiction at various intervals since the first time. they have used or abused one of nine different drugs: tobacco; alcohol; cannabis; cocaine; methamphetamine; heroin; and prescription drugs (opioids, stimulants and tranquilizers).

Dependence was assessed at four time points since first drug use: 12 months or less; more than 12 to 24 months; more than 24 to 36 months; and over 36 months. The study period covered from 2015 to 2018.

Rates of cannabis use disorder in the previous year were higher among adolescents than among young adults at all times since first drug use. For example, within 12 months of first cannabis use, almost 11% of adolescents had the disorder, compared to just over 6% of young adults.

Rates of non-medical prescription drug use were also higher among adolescents than among young adults at all times since first use. For example, within 12 months of the first prescription drug abuse:

  • 11% of adolescents had a prescription opioid use disorder compared to 7% of young adults.
  • 14% of adolescents had a prescription stimulant use disorder compared to 4% of young adults.
  • 11% of adolescents had a disorder related to the use of prescription tranquilizers compared to almost 5% of young adults.

Teenagers and young adults had similar rates of tobacco and alcohol addiction within 12 months of first substance use, but the rate was higher among young adults during the later time periods examined by the researchers.

Estimates of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin use among adolescents were too low to report, but approximately 31% of young adults developed heroin addiction and nearly a quarter of young adults developed methamphetamine addiction within a year of the first drug trial, according to the results.

The study, published on March 29 in JAMA Pediatricshighlights young people’s vulnerability to addiction, the researchers said.

According to study co-author Emily Einstein, “research has shown that a person’s brain development continues into their twenties and that the age of drug initiation is a risk factor very important for developing an addiction”. Einstein is the head of the Science Policy Branch at NIDA.

“This underscores the importance of preventing drug use and screening for substance use or abuse among adolescents and young adults,” she explained. “Providing timely treatment and support to young people who need it must be a public health priority.”

The US National on Drug Abuse says more about addiction.

SOURCE: US National Institute on Drug Abuse, press release, March 29, 2021

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