Estimated Age of Initiation of Substance Use By People 12 Or Older In The US

"Figure 10 provides an overview of the numbers of past year initiates in 2015 for the majority of substances that are discussed in this section of the report. The illicit drugs with the largest number of recent initiates in 2015 were marijuana (2.6 million new users), prescription pain relievers (2.1 million new misusers), prescription tranquilizers (1.4 million new misusers), prescription stimulants (1.3 million new misusers), and hallucinogens (1.2 million new users). In addition, there were 4.8 million new users of alcohol, 2.0 million people who tried a cigarette for the first time in the past year, and 1.3 million people who first used smokeless tobacco in the past year.35
"Figure 11 provides an overview of the average age at first use (or first misuse for prescription drugs) among recent initiates aged 12 to 49. For many substances, the average age at initiation in 2015 was under the age of 20, with average ages of 17.4 years for inhalants, 17.6 years for alcohol, 17.9 years for cigarettes, 19.0 years for marijuana, and 19.6 years for any hallucinogen and for LSD. However, there were some substances with older average initiation ages, such as heroin (25.4 years) and methamphetamine (25.8 years). The average ages at initiation for the misuse of prescription psychotherapeutics were in the early to late 20s (22.3 years for prescription stimulants, 25.8 years for prescription pain relievers, 25.9 years for prescription tranquilizers, and 28.3 years for prescription sedatives)."


Lipari, R. N., Williams, M. R., Copello, E. A. P., & Pemberton, M. R. (2016, October). Risk and protective factors and estimates of substance use initiation: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. NSDUH Data Review, p. 1. Retrieved from