Substance use disorders from age 18 to 90

Substance use disorders (alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and opioid) in the US generally decrease with age, according to a recent paper coauthored by Rebecca Evans-Polce. The authors find that men have higher rates of substance use disorders than women from age 18 into the 70s, after which they converge. White participants report higher rates of most substance use disorders in young adulthood, and black participants report higher or equal rates to whites in midlife. Latino/a participants report the lowest levels of substance use disorders at all ages, with some crossover of more cannabis disorders in late life and with a spike in midlife opioid disorders.


The authors applied time-varying effect models (TVEMs) to 2012-2013 data from the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions–III, a nationally representative survey of the adult population with 36,309 participants.


Results suggest relatively constant disparities by gender across age, and a crossover effect for black and white participants. Findings can help target intervention programs for specific substance use disorders in certain populations at certain ages.


Age trends in rates of substance use disorders across ages 18–90: Differences by gender and race/ethnicity was published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence in November 2017.