Research on youths who entered Cook County, Ill.'s juvenile detention system in the period from 1995-1998 has found significant demographic differences among the youths who had substance use disorders at some point leading up to young adulthood. More than 90% of males and nearly 80% of females were found to have a substance use disorder at some point in their lifetime; the individuals were interviewed up to 9 times over a 16-year period.
Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the study involved a random sample of more than 1,800 youths ages 10 to 18 who had been incarcerated in Cook County's juvenile facilities. Here were some of the main findings:
Alcohol and marijuana use disorders were more common among young males, while prevalence of cocaine, opioid, amphetamine and sedative disorders was higher in females.
Prevalence of any substance use disorder decreased as youths aged.
Marijuana use disorders were more prevalent at younger ages than other substance use disorders, but by the end of the study alcohol use disorders were the most commonly seen disorder.