The percentage of high school students who first tried alcohol or cigarettes before the age of 13 has declined considerably over the last decade, according to recently released data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).
In 1997, 31% of high school students reported drinking more than a few sips of alcohol before age 13, compared to 24% in 2007. The percentage reporting smoking a whole cigarette for the first time before age 13 also declined, from 25% in 1997 to 14% in 2007. Marijuana initiation before age 13, however, did not change significantly over the same period.
Maybe this will offer an opportunity to learn more about the relationship between age of first use and dependence later in life. If this cohort has lower rates of dependence later in life, it might suggest that there is a cause and effect relationship between use in early adolescence and dependence later in life.