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Drugs & Health Blog

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

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
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.

To find out what other teens are asking about, search the Chat Day transcript for a topic that interests you. 

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


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...
boi ur gonna die from drug abuse
you going to die son
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...
it's "grammar" not "grammer"
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
i never used drugs
I hate drugs
"affected" not "effected"
what age did you start
11 years old I was in 6grade (middle school)
I use drugs with my friends in 8th grade
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
Why are you saying that weed is bad if your going to say that they're stupid for doing it I think you should be saying that they stupid for over drinking at a young age. Weed isn't that bad people try to scare you by saying that it ruins your life when it doesn't if you think about it how many people have been in fights in pubs night clubs and in the streets because of drinking too much and how many people have even thrown a punch because they are high weed is peaceful and I am 15 and it is something everyone in my school does
Actually studies say that marijuana can impact your brain development. Your brain is not fully developed until you are 25. Therefore, marijuana is not healthy for you, and marijuana also impacts other parts of your body too. Next time you should pay attention in ELA(English Language Arts) class instead of being high on marijuana.
It affected your grammar. -_-
I hate drugs
Dude stop doing weed
Weed is the weakest type of drug and if you do it often it does affect you in many ways if messes up you're brain. For example the amount of dopamine gets replaced by weed for an amount of time and then it takes awhile for it to regenerate so that means all those goals, all that happiness you used to have disappears and you are not the same person you used to be. Also weed has an effect of short memory loss in your brain and laziness, and you feel tired when you are not on the drug. so IMAGINE what other drugs can do to your body. BE CAREFUL!!!
I had a good friend who started drugs at 18. His grades at uni crashed and by 21 it had killed him.
well you are a very lucky man
Finding it hilarious when you say 'I don't really think that it affeced any of my academic archivements. I cam out of my secondar school with 15 grades A*-C' Do you realize how many mistakes are in just that sentence, as you defend the fact that weed has had no affect on you.

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
It's not saying cannabis is bad, it is saying that over dosing or using it without a medical prescription is unhealthy for your body and brain.
No drug is good for you .. what do you get from it? Problems still will be there when you wake up whay do it?
Yeah guys this genius wants you not to overdose on weed so don't smoke too much or you'll die, sincerely a massive stoner

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.