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Psychol Sci. 2008 Oct;19(10):1037-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02196.x.

Is it important to prevent early exposure to drugs and alcohol among adolescents?

Author information

1
Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697-7085, USA. codgers@uci.edu

Abstract

Exposure to alcohol and illicit drugs during early adolescence has been associated with poor outcomes in adulthood. However, many adolescents with exposure to these substances also have a history of conduct problems, which raises the question of whether early exposure to alcohol and drugs leads to poor outcomes only for those adolescents who are already at risk. In a 30-year prospective study, we tested whether there was evidence that early substance exposure can be a causal factor for adolescents' future lives. After propensity-score matching, early-exposed adolescents remained at an increased risk for a number of poor outcomes. Approximately 50% of adolescents exposed to alcohol and illicit drugs prior to age 15 had no conduct-problem history, yet were still at an increased risk for adult substance dependence, herpes infection, early pregnancy, and crime. Efforts to reduce or delay early substance exposure may prevent a wide range of adult health problems and should not be restricted to adolescents who are already at risk.

PMID:
19000215
PMCID:
PMC3664402
DOI:
10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02196.x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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