Drug abuse, dependence starts early

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 21, 2007

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More than 10% of the nation's adults appear to have problems with drug use or abuse during their lives, including 2.6% who become drug dependent, according to a study in the May Archives of General Psychiatry.

Researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism used data from in-person interviews conducted in 2001 and 2002 with 43,093 adult representatives of the U.S. population to determine the prevalence of abuse or dependence on nicotine, alcohol or drugs that include sedatives, tranquilizers, cocaine and inhalants.

Individuals who abused drugs began at an average age of about 20, and those with drug dependence began at about age 22.

A second study, this from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, found that youth who faced depression in the previous year were twice as likely to take their first drink or use drugs for the first time.

"Recognizing depression early and helping youths receive appropriate help may prevent substance abuse," said Terry Cline, PhD, SAMHSA administrator.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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