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Substance Use Initiation Among Justice-Involved Youths: Evidence From the Pathways to Desistance Study

NCJ Number
Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse Volume: 28 Issue: 2 Dated: 2019 Pages: 73-82
Date Published
10 pages
Publication Series

This study examined substance use initiation among justice-involved adolescents transitioning into adulthood.


Lifetime use of any of 11 substances was determined from the U.S. Pathways to Desistance Study (N=1,354) and modeled using latent class/transition analyses. Users were categorized into five classes: no/occasional use of alcohol and cannabis; alcohol, cigarette, and cannabis; stimulants; sedatives and hallucinogenic drugs; and all substance use. Justice-involved youths had already initiated substance use when they were between the ages of 16 and 23 on average. Those who used few substances at age 16 on average were likely to initiate illicit substances before age 23. These findings support the importance of ensuring timely access to substance-use prevention for this vulnerable population. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019