Teens with easy access to drugs and alcohol at home are more likely to drink and abuse drugs in adulthood, researchers from the Michigan State University reported in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse.

In one of the first studies to examine how adolescent exposure to illegal substances impacts patterns of abuse in adulthood, study authors analyzed data from ~15,000 participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health over 3 time periods: at average ages 16, 22, and 29 years. In general, study participants with access to illegal substances and alcohol during adolescence started using drugs and alcohol at an earlier age. They also used more drugs and alcohol at each of the 2 other time periods when the average ages were 22 and 29 years. 

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The findings also demonstrated that the effects were more pronounced among males. Male participants, who typically had more access to alcohol and illegal substances in the home during adolescence, drank and used more drugs in adulthood than the female participants. Also, whites were significantly more likely to drink alcohol and do drugs in adulthood than blacks, Hispanic, and Asian participants. This effect was sustained despite the fact that Asian and Hispanic participants generally had more availability to drugs and alcohol in the home during adolescence.

Cliff Broman, the study’s lead author, concluded, “These findings provide evidence that the availability of illegal drugs and alcohol in the home while growing up is a critical factor in the later use of substances.”

For more information visit msu.edu.