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More positive expectations about drug use predicts earlier initiation.

While substance use throughout the lifespan is bad, substance use initiation in earlier adolescent years is particularly associated with negative consequences. Research has shown that perceptions and perceived expectations of adolescents affects their substance use. This study attempts to further general understanding by looking at the relationship between perceived expectations and early use onset. Researchers followed high schoolers from 9th through 12th grade and surveyed them about beliefs and behaviors with drugs. They found a correlation between perceived positive effects of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana and earlier use by adolescents. Researchers also found that perceived negative outcomes delayed the onset of marijuana use, but not alcohol or tobacco use.

The study, "Alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana expectancies as predictors of substance use initiation in adolescence: A longitudinal examination" was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse and was published in the February issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

Research & Resources