[Early onset of alcohol and tobacco use--indicator of enhanced risk of addiction?]

Z Kinder Jugendpsychiatr Psychother. 2007 Mar;35(2):137-43. doi: 10.1024/1422-4917.35.2.137.
[Article in German]


Objectives: The early onset of substance use is considered to be one of the best predictors of later addiction problems according to a number of U.S.-American studies. The current study investigates the influence of an early age of substance use on addiction behavior in a culture whose attitude towards it is relatively permissive and in which adolescents thus begin to use the substances earlier and exhibit higher rates of consumption.

Methods: In a prospective longitudinal study of a birth cohort of 384 children at risk, the age at first use of tobacco and alcohol and at begin of regular consumption, as well as different parameters of alcohol and tobacco consumption were assessed at the age of 15 years.

Results: The age at first use proved to be a significant predictor of consumption behavior (frequency and amounts), as well as of binge drinking as a specific consumption pattern, and of initial symptoms of tobacco dependency at the age of 15 years. The correlation is higher in general for tobacco consumption and for female adolescents.

Conclusions: The findings replicate in a German sample the role of the age of first use as a significant risk factor for consumption of alcohol and tobacco even at a very early stage of substance use. It remains for future studies to investigate whether the relationship is causal or noncausal.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / epidemiology*