Association of illicit drug use in adolescence with socioeconomic and criminal justice outcomes in adulthood: Prospective findings from a UK national birth cohort

Journal of Epidemiology and Community HealthWhite J, et al. | May 07, 2020

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Given an association of Illicit drug use in adolescence with drug use and poor mental health in adult life, researchers here investigated the relationship between adult economic and criminal justice outcomes. Data from 14,082 participants (6,999 women) in the 1970 British Birth Cohort Study were analyzed. At 16 years of age, participants self-reported illicit drug use over study members’ lifetime and in the past year. At 30 years of age, self reporting of 13 outcomes was done; these included illicit drug use, smoking, problems with alcohol, mental and physical health, experience of socioeconomic disadvantage and experiences with the criminal justice system. Among participants, 20.3% had ever tried an illicit drug and 7.2% had used in the past year at the age of 16 years. Analyses revealed dose–response association between adolescent drug use with illicit drug use in adult life in the past year, experiencing homelessness, being arrested and cautioned by the police, and being found guilty at court.

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