January 21, 2020  Last Update: November 12, 2019, 4:01 pm

Age 13 – 29 : the “Deformative Years”

Many kids start drugs at age 13, and don't seek help until they are in their 20's

According to SAMHSA reports, your child is likely to try drugs at age 13. But if he develops a drug problem, he’s also not likely to seek first treatment for 16 years. That 13 year old would be 29 by the time he sought first treatment.

Welcome to the “deformative years”, where some of your child’s most important development may be heavily influenced by illegal drugs.

The damaging consequences of substance abuse can often be undetected or unacknowledged for many years – undermining many aspects of peoples’ health and well- being, as well as the lives of those around them.

The period between first use and first admission into treatment is different among men and women. On average, 16.5 years pass between the two occurrences for men, while 13.8 years pass for women. This offers a shallow look into the nature of men and women in addiction, and how they view themselves and their problems.

The research also showed that the time between first drug use and treatment varied with substances.
Someone on prescription painkillers gets out of control faster (7.8 years from first use to first treatment) than someone misusing alcohol (20.2 years, on average). Or is a pain killer addiction more difficult for the body or wallet to maintain? Or is the stigma behind alcohol abuse simply less fierce, resulting is more acceptance and less social pressures to get help?

Imagine the difference between an immature 13-year-old teenage boy and a mature, early career 29-year-old man. Consider the development that takes place in between. Critical decisions are made. Priorities are established. Relationships are formed and forgotten. Clearly these are the “deformative years” if an untreated addiction to drugs and alcohol is interfering with normal “coming of age”.

That is why it is essential that we work to prevent substance abuse in the first place, and in instances where it happens, identify the problem and get people the treatment they need as soon as possible so that they, and their families and friends, do not have to endure years of needless suffering.


  • http://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/advisories/1110054229.aspx
  • http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k11/026/WEB_TEDS_026.cfm

Speak Your Mind


You are reading the category "SAMHSA Watch - Following SAMHSA, the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration." which is a PERMANENT category.