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Drug Alcohol Depend. 1998 Jan 1;49(2):115-21.

Adolescent versus adult onset and the development of substance use disorders in males.

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Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research, University of Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


This study examines the influence of adolescent age of onset on the development of substance use disorders (SUD) by comparing adult males (n = 181) with SUD categorized into adolescent-onset, early-adult onset and late-adult onset groups on patterns of substance use and related disorders, time course of the development of substance dependence and rates of comorbid mental disorders. A sample of male adolescents (n = 81) with SUD was also included as a comparison group. The subjects were recruited from intervention programs in the community and participated in semistructured interviews with diagnoses determined by the best estimate method. Adolescent-onset adults, compared with other adult-onset groups, had higher lifetime rates of cannabis and hallucinogen use disorders, shorter times from first exposure to dependence, shorter times between the development of their first and second dependence diagnoses and higher rates of disruptive behavior disorders and major depression. Adolescents were similar to adolescent-onset adults. While the findings must be interpreted in light of methodological limitations, these results suggest that adolescent-onset SUD is a distinct subtype involving different substances and more rapid development than adult-onset SUD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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