Age of illicit drug initiation


The earlier that people start to use illicit drugs, the more likely it is that there will be longer term adverse effects. Those who use drugs and commit crime are likely to have started using drugs earlier than drug users who do not have criminal careers.

This research has found that among sentenced property offenders, the average beginning age for regular use of cannabis was 14.7 years (compared to 18.4 years for use in the community as a whole) while for amphetamines, heroin and cocaine, the average age of regular use was under 20 for those who commit property offences. For these drugs, the average age of regular use is not significantly different for those who are sentenced for property offences and those users in the general community.

Working from diverse data sources, this paper focuses on age of drug initiation and provides an information base for policy development.