More than 60 Percent of Teens Who Misuse Drugs, Alcohol Continue as Adults

Does youthful experimentation with drugs and alcohol always fade with age? Not necessarily, a long-term study warns.

Researchers found that more than 60% of teens who report heavy use of alcohol, marijuana, and/or other drugs continue to have a drug problem as adults, often involving misuse of prescription medications.

We found that most U.S. adolescents with severe substance use disorder symptoms persisted with multiple symptoms in middle adulthood.

Their drug use habits were assessed at the outset. Then, participants were randomly surveyed every other year until age 30. From age 35 to 50, they were surveyed every five years.

Those with two-to-three symptoms were categorized as having a "mild" abuse disorder.

But those with the highest number of symptoms — six or more — were classified as having a "severe" drug issue.

In all, about 12% of 18-year-olds reported severe drug use issues. More than 40% indicated they had at least a mild drug problem.

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