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.

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.


You don't need drugs,It will ruin your life and there is no going back.You will regret everything that you do with drugs.

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.

Will I smoke cannbeis

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.

don't do drugs ever it can kill you!!!!

great propaganda

don't give wrong info just beacuse your close minded give helping info for people who need help not B.S. you and your so called facts..

Nobody factors fun into the equation.... all you get is a bunch of people whining about using drugs because of depression, or addiction, or some sort of need when the truth is a majority of people use drugs merely to have a fun night with friends and a majority of people leave the occasionally rare experience or trip unharmed.

It's the demonization of it all that makes it bad, and causes problems down the road instead of encouraging responsible use. It's like sex, staying abstinent is a joke, you might as well encourage doing it safely.

THe thing is, for teens, the consequences can make it SO not worthwhile because, for one thing, illicit drugs are, well, "illegal," and that could mean getting arrested, which can cause a cascade of problems that no one saw when they were having "a fun night" with drugs. Also, certain drugs can magnify a tendency to act on impulse, which can put you in situations that you regret later. So, encouraging "safe use" is a kind of a joke, too, 'cause how can you define that for a young person?

you know what some kids just dont listen to their teachers,or parents when they are told not to do drugs their friends are putting preesure on them that is peer pressure DON'T DO DRUGS EVER IT CAN KILL YOU AND YOU WILL BE SORRY your teachers,and parents told they probaly told you one,twice.triple times you probaly wish you were never on drugs

Some children these days don't know what DON'T DO DRUGS mean

drugs are so lame, they are just one way to die slowly and painfully, and some times it goes to far and people die before you realize you are dying.

we all are gonna die anyway, ive done drugs for 17 plus years. I got off the bad ones but still have fun with the ones that dont kill you. Its called harm reduction and education. Test what you are taking or have a friend who has tried the same thing and had a good experience. For me i am prescribed xanax adderall and subutex, highest doses on all 150 bars 90 ad 30s and 90 subs but i need them now. I work fine with them and they help me with everyday life and being a IT Technician/ Imaging Administrator. Just be careful....sorry

Thanks for the great post. I will tell my friends about your page. Thanks again...
[commercial link removed, per guidelines]

they more they say dont do it the more you want it

MercySon. I couldn't help but comment about your're post. You ramble on about how Marijuana has yet to negatively effect you. I beg to differ. Your entire post was misspelled and was full of poor grammer. Obviously it has effected you. You say your in college to be a student of law? It makes me laugh at your grammer.
As for the topic, i agree with a few other people. It's human nature to want to try new things. An elder tells you, 'you can't'. So what is every teenager going to do? They're going to break the rule/law. I am mature for my age, i'm 17. I find teenagers who use substances to be inccompitent and immature. They see a rule thats limiting them, thats telling them they can't. It drives them crazy, so when the chance presents itself, they jump.

Yes it is very true that kids do drugs at a very young age. When I was around the age of ten I saw kids my age smoking weed. I'm now 19 and in college and I still see it today, but with a variety of new things. Students in college try things like adderall and ritalin to help them focus when it comes around final exams. There are many reasons why kids and students start doing these drugs. One is because of stress they might be experiencing at home or the abuse they are taking physically/or mentally. Two students in college tends to deal with a high amount of stress levels, so that leads to these types of drugs. And finally most kids and students because their friends do it. I know most people would say weed helps them and makes them thing better. In some ways this might be true, but in the end I mean when your (older), you may not be able to be on the same mentally level as you should be when you become older. Weed kills brain cells and what do you need to help you to be able to remember how to do things, and just follow common sense. Oh I know you need brain cells. The legalization of Marijuana is playing a big factor into today's society. And the parents play a major role in why kids start drugs young. And the way parents set standards in their household. I think if a parent just be straight up with there kids they will not become disappointed in them later on in life. And this is how I feel towards this topic.

Im 13. I do not do drugs. We learned marijuana is healthier than alcohol is that true? And why is it medicine if its bad 4 you?
And also my friens say that they do it 4 fun is that a common answer

@212ntn Last question first: yes, lots of people say the do drugs for fun.

Good for you for not buying into that "fun" idea. We know, for instance, that the younger you start taking drugs, the more likely you are to become addicted. And drugs play tricks on your mind and body, making it hard to stop once you become addicted. Here's a post that talks about what happens to the brain and body under the influence of drugs of addiction: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/word-day-brain-reward-system/

Here are some answers to your other questions:
It is hard to say whether one drug of abuse is better or worse than the other, as so many factors are involved: someone’s age, how much of the drug they take and even their reasons for doing the drug.

It's also important to make a distinction between drugs as medication, and drugs of abuse. Prescription drugs can be safe and effective when used to treat certain conditions and under the supervision of a doctor. Some of these drugs may be abused - pain medications, for example, can be highly addictive over time if someone uses them for the wrong purpose, with the wrong dosage, or by someone who wasn't really prescribed them in the first place. But you're probably hearing about other health treatments as well. For example, medical marijuana has been in the news a lot. Scientists have shown that marijuana’s active ingredient (tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC) can help people with certain medical conditions like pain, nausea, wasting disease, addiction, autoimmune disorders, etc., especially for patients with advanced stages of cancer or other painful diseases. Currently, there are just two approved oral THC medications. However, smoked marijuana has not been FDA approved as a medicine, because taking smoke into your lungs is never a good idea.

don't do drugs peeps

drugs r bad to do but k

I think teens should just not start drugs the first time. depressed, hurt or whatever, dont do it! how does killing yourself make your life any easier? on top of that, your just hurting the people around you that have to see you do this to yourself. how about you stop being selfish and do the right thing! DONT, i repeat. DONT DO DRUGS!!!

Why i said what i said is because right now im watching my four friends do drugs, Its killing me. I dont know how to help them. I want to. But they already made their choice you know? I just dont want anyone else to throw there lives away. Drugs arent worth it. Their not. Do something other then them. Theres sooooooo much that you can do instead of drugs. Be Smart!

I have read several of the posts on here and find it very interesting to read different points of view. I used to think that smoking weed was no big deal, but as I have read the research being done and compare it to real life situations of long term smokers of marijuana that I know, I have totally changed my mind. I think that there are medicinal uses for it and that should be the extent of it, I do not feel that it should be legal like cigarettes and alcohol, look how much damage they cause, do we really need to just add another addictive substance? Another thing I found amusing is that the first comment made on here by Mercyson, states that he/she have smoked weed for years and that it has not effected them or their academics, clearly this is not true, there are SEVERAL misspelled words in his comment. I would say it's fair to ask if marijuana plays a role in that. Not to be rude but going into law school you should at least be able to know the difference when using the term AFFECT and EFFECT and how to spell other basic words such a relationship (also misspelled).

i'm doing my senior project on the effects on teenagers who have parents who use drugs! both of my parents used drugs, my father died in 08 but not from drugs and my mother is off drugs now. I would say they both have been using since i was 2 or 3 i'm 18 now. while i do this report i'm searching for a way teens can over come following in their parents foot steps. Like i said before i'm 18 and my whole life i smoked weed once and that was it! i DIDN'T like it and will never do it again. Honestly i don't see why people use drugs there are so many things in the world to do in order to get over depression and stress and social acceptance. I mean come on now why would a teen want to be hung over and druged up i just don't get it and NEVER WILL!


Im 13 [deleted, per guidelines] and im a good friendly fun chill person!

My neighbors take drugs and they smoke it at the park with other kids cALLED "pot heads" It is tearing their mom and dad apart as well as ruining their little brother and big sister's life.They steal thier stuff video games and bikes as well as small appliances for drug money. I just wanted to share that to show others what can happen.

i am doing a report and i need to know whydo kids do drugs

@pwms~crazy There is no simple answer to your question, but you are in the right place to research the topic! Several posts here address that question. For starters, why don’t you check out the following: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/so-why-do-people-like-drugs/ and https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-drugs/. You may also want to read Drugs, Brains, & Behavior - The Science of Addiction. Good luck on your report!

My 5 year old son looks up to my brother who is 19. I found out that my brother stole $700.00 from my son’s biggie bank one day. It took my son a few years to save that money. He’s dad use to take time counting the money with our son and used that time to bond with him and also as a teaching experience. When my son found out that the money was gone, he literately fell on his knees and started to cry. I will never forget this moment! I never told my son that it was my brother who took the money but I will definitely tell him when he starts high school which is a time that drugs will be a popular topic.


Add new comment

Current state: Approved
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.