New report links drinking to early drug abuse in youngsters


[Representational image] | Picture credit: Creative Commons

A UN-backed report has claimed youngsters who take to smoking and drinking at an early age are at a higher risk of doing drugs.

The report is one published annually by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) annually. This is the 2019 edition of the report.

The research said: “…The earlier the age of onset, the greater the likelihood of developing substance use disorders due to the effects of these substances on the developing brain.”

This seems to confirm long-held global fears about both smoking and drinking and their effects on youngsters.

What does the report say about drinking?

The INCB report is based on the World Mental Health Survey Initiative, conducted across 17 countries.

It said the “the median age of onset of use for
these substances is similar in those countries: 16–19 years for alcohol and tobacco.”

For other substances, this was “18–19 years for cannabis and 21–24 years for cocaine.”

The report surmised: “The information suggests that
children and adolescents should be targeted long before they reach the age of first use, by means of evidence-based prevention interventions and policies.”

It then cited longitudinal studies to make an even stronger statement. It said these studies show that “the earlier the age of onset for alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use, the greater the likelihood of use of drugs such as opiates and cocaine.”

[Representational image] | Photo credit: Creative Commons

How does it all start?

The study also explained what prompts children to start smoking and drinking.

The reasons given are “positive perceptions of availability and the social approval or the normative nature of substance use.”

Another reason cited is the “their lack of awareness of the risks associated with substance use.”

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