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Drugs & Health Blog

Real Teens Ask: How Old Are Kids Who Start Using Drugs?

Sara Bellum

Lots of teens have questions about drugs. Each year, NIDA scientists spend a day chatting online with high school students and answering their questions.

At the last Drug Facts Chat Day, soccerstar0 asked:

“On average how old are kids who start using drugs?”

Research shows that drug use often starts in the teen years. You might have heard that, but here’s something you may not know—the science shows that the younger you are when you start using drugs, the more likely you are to get addicted later on. Doing drugs can also cause problems with friends, in sports, and in school.

Let’s face it—when someone tells us not to do something, that sometimes makes it seem more exciting. But drugs can really do some not-so-exciting things to your body. NIDA researchers discovered that drugs can literally change the way your brain works. And since your own brain won’t finish growing until you’re 25, you probably don’t want to mess with that process by doing drugs.


Wow I started to take drugs when I was about 12 ( only weed ) I am seventeen now I still smoke weed. I don't really think that it affeced any of my academic archivements. I cam out of my secondar school with 15 grades A* to C and I'm at college now doing my first year studing Law and it is going very well. Maybe I had some arguments with my friends over drugs , but not much and it did not affect our realtionship. So overall drugs didnt really affect my life in a bad way.

@MercySon--you may be one of the lucky ones who so far hasn’t seen any bad effects, but according to NIDA scientists, about 9% of those who use drugs become dependent on them...a percentage that increases to about 25-50% for people who use every day--which means they can’t stop even though they know drugs are messing up their lives. In one study, people who smoked for 30 years said they were less satisfied with their lives, had less happiness in their relationships, and poorer physical and mental health compared to their non-smoking peers. And like NIDA's Director says, "Imagine what you could be without it."

you are a lil young....i myself am 31 and have been smoking weed, since 13. Then did ecstasy for about 10 years. Every weekend about 4-6 pills a weekend. Then LSD Shrooms xanax coke heroin k dmt lsa klonopin valium.....anything under the sun....and i decided it was time to grow up......and i loved those 15 plus years of using drugs but I have no kids, girlsfriends here and there, and I work at a computer company. So if you are responsible....and use it. If you cant dont cuz it will lead you to a life of hell. I love my life now, I just do what i am prescribed to which is xanax, adderall and subutex, which the adderall was rxed at 15, xanax at 18 for ptsd cuz i found a dead body and 3 family members died in the same day when i was 16, but and subs or buprenorphine. I take a lil of each, each day. Not selling or abusing, but i need it. Just stay safe. I quit all opiates 2 years ago after 4 ods in 3 months and losing a best friend of 18 years. So just think before you do stuff. I screwed up definately. But i got back up, not everybody does...
To MercySon: Obviously drugs have affected you in some way, because you have several simple grammer errors. I am 15 and i can spell much better than you. You may be lucky so far, but not for long. -Against-
That's mean ya'll, what if he's dyslexic...
Well MercySon....It looks like it has effected your spelling. So...yes marijuana has effected you. Good luck to you.
why did u use drugs
because I love them really much
what age did you start
11 years old I was in 6grade (middle school)
You say your seventeen and in college at law school. Your a genius for a drug user.
What's wrong with seventeen and a college student? I'm practically a seventeen years old first year medtech student. 17 and a college student is normal in our country - PH
Not smart enough because she's doing drug!
If he/she was born at the end of the year, yah, they will be 17 when they start post-secondary education. I will be too. So think before you judge people. K thanks.
What year were you born?
Hi, I'm only 12 and I'm doing a project on why students should be drug tested before they are aloud to be a member on the sports team at our school.Im really happy that your life turned out so well and that drugs did not affect your life to bad but at my age I have seen several people die from smoking,and I even attended one of the funerals because I was rather close to one of them.But that aside I just have one question for you mercy son, are you telling me drugs are ok to do and that if I do them they won't affect me like you? =(
you are stupid dont do weed
It affected your grammar. -_-

i cant beleive this site exists and spreads lies of cannabis saying it has no medical use?? Are you still living in the 30's lol you cannot spread these lies to create fear anymore to the youth.

Hi wow!
This is a controversial issue for sure. Just so you know, NIDA funds much of the research showing that THC--the active ingredient in marijuana--produces effects that can be useful for treating a variety of medical conditions. NIDA's main concern though is more about young people who smoke marijuana to get high. Because our brains don't stop developing till the mid-20's, doing drugs while your brain is still maturing, can be especially dangerous. For example, marijuana can cause problems with memory and coordination--who needs that?!

i agree with you there maney medical uses my grandma used for her breast cancer

aqui no brasil as dogas tomaram conta a violencia se tornou insuportavel, gostei muito do blog parabens

were can i find out good stuf! about drugs ??

@peepee--you mean other than here? LOL. Here's something else that has a lot of info on drugs: It's called The Science of Addiction. Thanks for your question.

do 10 year olders do drugs

@coolone--sadly, some do. Hopefully, someone in their life will care enough to help them if that's the case.

It is possible for kids that young to start using that is actually when i started to smoke weed.


Dear people who ake drugs, Dont take them.

Love Drug Busters

Drugs are so bad for you. It causes serios health issues and people wont like you because of your bad and stupid move of taking drugs. It is bad for men to take steroids because some of the side effects are Development of breasts and a shrinking of the testicles and also enlargement prostate. Embaress your self now and die or be cool and clean instead of nerdy and dirty.

This song is in the Melody of Ghost Busters. If theres something strange in the drug store, who ya gonna call?!... DRUG BUSTERS.

Dear people who take drugs,
Drugs are stupid dont take them.


I agree with the Drug Busters Drugs are STUPID!!!!!

This site dosen't work!!!

Teens think its cool to take drugs but why do they? DRUG STINKS!

Pleease moderate my comment its the truth

@ROLER ONE: some times this is true but sometimes not. A lot of kids do drugs because a adult tells them not to but i find most of the time thay tell them this at the stage that they are tring to find them selves and they think to have controle thay need to do what the opposit of what we tell them. anuther is they think its cool to do them or there presherd in to it. (plz read this)

do you do drugs because you have some bad grammar

Okay i smoked weed when i was 13.... it was at a party & lemmme tell yu the effects are fun! but some of them not so mcuh.... i have alot of regrets i canttake back now! soo its your cchoice....(:

Hi..What is the earliest that poeple start taking drugs?...Why do teens start taking drugs in the first place?

@curious--I don't really know what the "earliest" is that some people start taking drugs. I did hear a famous movie star (who went on to have a lot of problems with drugs) say recently in an interview that she started when she was 9! But that is not the norm. Usually, people start in their teens, because of a variety of reasons, whether peer pressure, to experiment, or to get a high. Unfortunately, the earlier you start the more likely it is that you will have problems in the future, including possible addiction.

Well I basically smoked for the first time when I was likeee 13? and didn't get addicted until a year later until I was 14, After that I went on to xanax , ecstasy, inhalants , promethazine/codeine, cough syrup, vicodins, whipits, alcohol and ciggarettes . Now at 16 I'm trying to stop but it's like the drugs have become who I am.. Now I don't blame want to put weed at fault here because I don't believe theres anything wrong with it but after smoking marijuana for so long I basically wanted to feel stronger high's so that lead me to other sh**.
gateway pretty much..

There is all kinds of drugs, And are so easy for childern to get hold of these days,I think more needs to be done by the schools and parents. Parents need to talk to their children about the danger of drugs.I mean kids can get hold of drugs, just like buying sweets in the shop or candy.

I think people should come to realization that drugs do nothing but harm your body. If you dont agree with me i dont need opinions but in the long run you're going to regret it because of one stupid mistake you made. Of course now its fun, But when the heart diseases and lung cancer starts it just gets FUNNER. call drug busters?

Wow i cant believe it!!! People are stupid enough to take drugs?!?!?! It effects your whole life next time you feel the need to get high,see a therapist or be stupid and take drugs.ITS YOUR LIFE,LIVE IT HOW YOU WANT TO........

These are the two most important posts to consider:

"ROLER ONE says:
February 10, 2010 at 1:19 pm

curious says:
April 19, 2010 at 12:56 pm
Hi..What is the earliest that poeple start taking drugs?…Why do teens start taking drugs in the first place?

How old are kids that try drugs? They're kids! duh.How old are teens? Use your imagination. ok wrong crowd for that recommendation.
Why do kids or teens try drugs? Look at the first post I've quoted. Kids and teens try drugs intitially for the same reason they want to try alcohol. They are told they can't but others can. A concious human will wonder what is the difference between themselves and those who forbid them things and if an opportunity arises or is created, those rules will be tested and found to be rubbish.

If "drugs" were discussed responsibly and maturely among "adults", and the benefits and actual positive uses discovered, they wouldn't be drugs, they would be tools. I don't think they open up more of a person's mind, rather they stop or sidestep the bulls#@t "thoughts" parading through one's mind so that they can see the possibility already there. I'm not talking all mystical and magical, I'm talking about senses that are already there , but hidden in shadows from awareness. It's like someone discovering perfect pitch, or the ability to draw, anything that opens up perception. When young people see a glimpse of this beauty, compared to the ugliness and venom spewed forth by the ignorant masses, they may run in fear back to conformity, or bravely walk forth to a new world long lost in time. Since those who should be leading and teaching the young are trying to scare them from advancing the world, they are left to explore on there own with no clear direction or even idea of where they are. This is where the trap of using the drugs solely to get high comes in, if someone discovers the pleasurable feelings that can be experienced, they might not want to explore further and it is enough to be stoned and sedentary. Others may discover they can do things, both stemming from confidence and physical ability, that they couldn't do before, and think that the "drugs" are necessary to achieve that effect. Where are you to tell them any better, to act as a guide instead of a poison that destroys a persons right to life. Why do they have to see a random post on a message board that says it's all good. You will open up parts of your perception that you always in your heart knew was there. It's always been there, you don't need the drugs to have that power, but if you have been living in this "civilisation" they can really bloody help to take the blinders off. I am talking from my experience, I am not recommending anybody of any age do anything. I know my shit because I chose to, I didn't always, and rarely do now, know where I am going, but I know where I am, what I am, and how I'm gonna get there. I've never been great at a tidy ending so i'm gonna call it there, if you're going to get anything out of this post it's there to be got. Please think around the fear.

@rj2684- About the potential and promise of perception, you said it best here: “It’s always been there, you don’t need the drugs to have that power…” Why blame civilization for stifling creativity and then resort to drugs to get it back? Seems lazy. Give your brain more credit, “take the blinders off”—watch a sunrise, paint something, have a stimulating conversation with friends, visit a lonely person and make their day. NIDA is about preventing young people from abusing drugs so they don’t get to a place where they need them to enjoy life—it’s a worthy goal.

i dont think you should use drugs im 13 and im never doin it people say just one but that all it takes

Kids always say peer presure this peer pressure that. im 14 i have been offered meth weed cocaine extacy almost everything. I have said no to everything. MY mom has told me not to, it doesn't make a differnce. People who take drgs do it because they want to not because they are forced to or anything. I am cklean and havent smoked or anything in my life. I grew up with a dad who smoked and a brother and sister who smoke. Peer pressure is bulls**t. Same with kids wanting to do it because there parents tell them not to. IF you don't want to do drugs than don't, if you do than do it. In my eyes people who do druggs are fine unless they start hittin me up for money.ALls i have to say is i know 8 kids who have died in the last year doing drugs. sO to al you kids out there who are wanting to smoke but don't know if you should. DOn't but if you are really curious just smoke weed 1 time you will hate it. If you like it well say goodbye to your clean friends and say hello to your new family.

S when people offer you drugs just say nah, you can do it im not. ANd people will say ok. and if people start doing drugs around you just leave and dont hang out with them its simple.


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