Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Early Exposure To Drugs, Alcohol Creates Lifetime Of Health Risk

Date:
October 16, 2008
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Is it bad kids who do drugs, or doing drugs that makes kids bad? The answer is "both." People who began drinking and using marijuana regularly prior to their 15th birthday face a higher risk of early pregnancy, as well as a pattern of school failure, substance dependence, sexually-transmitted disease and criminal convictions that lasts into their 30s.

People who began drinking and using marijuana regularly prior to their 15th birthday face a higher risk of early pregnancy, as well as a pattern of school failure, substance dependence, sexually-transmitted disease and criminal convictions that lasts into their 30s.

A study published online by the journal Psychological Science has been able to sort out for the first time the difficult question of whether it's bad kids who do drugs, or doing drugs that makes kids bad.

The answer is both, said Duke University psychologist Avshalom Caspi, who co-authored the report with his wife and colleague Terrie Moffitt. They are part of a team of researchers from the U.S., Britain and New Zealand that analyzed data tracking the health of nearly 1,000 New Zealand residents from birth through age 32.

Half of the study subjects who were using alcohol and marijuana regularly before age 15 were indeed the so-called "bad kids" who came from an abusive, criminal or substance-abusing household and had behavior problems as children.

But the other half were the "good kids" from more stable backgrounds, and they also ended up in poorer health in their 30s.

Caspi said it is clear from these data that adolescent exposure to drugs and alcohol can make a good kid veer off on a bad trajectory. "The good kids who do drugs end up looking like the bad kids who didn't do drugs," Caspi said.

The "good kids," who were without behavior problems as children and didn't have any of the family risk factors, but who began using drugs and alcohol before 15, ended up being 3.6 times more likely to be dependent on substances at age 32. They were also more likely than the other good kids to wind up with a criminal conviction and a herpes infection.

Good and bad, the adolescents who regularly used drugs and alcohol "all had poorer health as adults," Caspi said. "This is consistent with a growing body of evidence that early adolescence may be a sensitive time for exposure to alcohol and other drugs."

He noted however, that the study is not concerned with a kid who tries alcohol a couple of times or who takes a toke at a party. "These are kids who, by the age of 15, are invested in it, purchasing drugs and alcohol and using regularly."

A third of the girls from the "good kids" group were pregnant before age 21 if they had been using drugs and alcohol regularly. That's the same number of pregnancies as the "bad kids" who didn't use drugs. Two-thirds of the "bad kids" who used before 15 were pregnant before age 21. By comparison, only 12 percent of "good" girls who were non-users had early pregnancies.

"Even adolescents with no prior history of behavioral problems or family history of substance use problems were at risk for poor health outcomes if they used substances prior to age 15," said first author Candice Odgers of the University of California-Irvine, who did a post-doctoral fellowship with Caspi and Moffitt. "Universal interventions are required to ensure that all children -- not just those entering early adolescence on an at-risk trajectory -- receive an adequate dose of prevention."

Because the study has tracked these people from birth, "we know pretty much everything about them and we can sort out these things," Caspi said. "We have rich data on these kids' lives and their family situation before they started to do drugs."

The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the U.K. Medical Research Council, the William T. Grant Foundation, the Health Research Council of New Zealand, and a National Institute on Drug Abuse grant to the Duke University Transdisciplinary Prevention Research Center.

Other authors of the Psychological Science paper include Daniel Nagin of Carnegie Mellon University; Barry Milne of King's College, London; Alex Piquero of the University of Maryland, College Park; Wendy Slutske of the University of Missouri-Columbia; and Nigel Dickson and Richie Poulton of the University of Otago in New Zealand.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Early Exposure To Drugs, Alcohol Creates Lifetime Of Health Risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081016124244.htm>.
Duke University. (2008, October 16). Early Exposure To Drugs, Alcohol Creates Lifetime Of Health Risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081016124244.htm
Duke University. "Early Exposure To Drugs, Alcohol Creates Lifetime Of Health Risk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081016124244.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins