A new report shows that long term health risks increase when substance abuse is started at an early age. The risk for dependence and addiction for alcohol and drugs is higher when the individual starts using the substance at an earlier age. According to Pamela S. Hyde, the Administrator for SAMHSA, “Early to late adolescence is considered a critical risk period for the beginning of alcohol and drug use. Knowing the age a person starts the use of a substance can inform treatment facilities so that they can better provide timely and appropriate prevention and treatment programs.” Medical professionals have known that early prevention programs and substance abuse education at younger ages can help slow the rate of substance abuse, and the long term health risks posed.
The new report on substance abuse and long term health risks shows that more than 10% of individuals who needed substance abuse treatment started using drugs or alcohol when they were 11 years old or younger, and this is more than one in ten children. Statistics for 2011 show that almost three fourths, or close to 75%, of individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 years old who required substance abuse treatment started using drugs or alcohol before they turned 18 years old. The substance abuse for younger age groups included alcohol, marijuana, prescription pain medications, heroin, methamphetamine, and other drugs of abuse. The long term health risks associated with substance abuse at a younger age can include serious medical problems and diseases, like liver disease and heart disease.