Preventing adolescent substance use is critical because preventing early use appears to prevent substance use disorders later in life. There is a dramatic and important relationship between the age of first use and subsequent abuse and dependence problems. In 2006, adults aged 21 or older who first used alcohol before age 21 were more likely that adults who had their first drink at age 21 or older to be classified with alcohol or drug dependence or abuse (9.6% vs 2.4%) (SAMHSA, 2007). Recent research found that early (13 years old or younger) use triples the odds of developing drug dependence in adulthood. Early alcohol and other drug use does not always cause later abuse and dependence; but, it is a risk factor that can increase the potential for more serious problems (King and Chassin, 2007).

For more information on Screening and Brief Intervention:

See Section 2