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Am J Public Health. 2000 March; 90(3): 360–366.
PMCID: PMC1446176

The dynamics of alcohol and marijuana initiation: patterns and predictors of first use in adolescence.


OBJECTIVES: This study, guided by the social development model, examined the dynamic patterns and predictors of alcohol and marijuana use onset. METHODS: Survival analysis and complementary log-log regression were used to model hazard rates and etiology of initiation with time-varying covariates. The sample was derived from a longitudinal study of 808 youth interviewed annually from 10 to 16 years of age and at 18 years of age. RESULTS: Alcohol initiation rose steeply up to the age of 13 years and then increased more gradually; most participants had initiated by 13 years of age. Marijuana initiation showed a different pattern, with more participants initiating after the age of 13 years. CONCLUSIONS: This study showed that: (1) the risk of initiation spans the entire course of adolescent development; (2) young people exposed to others who use substances are at higher risk for early initiation; (3) proactive parents can help delay initiation; and (4) clear family standards and proactive family management are important in delaying alcohol and marijuana use, regardless of how closely bonded a child is to his or her mother.

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Selected References

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