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Vol. 4, No. 1-2, 1998
Issue release date: March 1998
Eur Addict Res 1998;4:58–66

Prevalence of Use, Abuse and Dependence of Illicit Drugs among Adolescents and Young Adults in a Community Sample

Perkonigg A. · Lieb R. · Wittchen H.-U.
Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Clinical Psychology and Epidemiology Unit, Munich, Germany

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Prevalence findings for 1995 of illicit drug use as well as DSM-IV abuse and dependence are reported from a representative population sample of 3,021 respondents from Munich, Germany, aged 14–24 years. Results are based on personal interviews using the M-Composite International Diagnostic Interview (M-CIDI) with its DSM-IV diagnostic algorithms. Findings indicate that more than 30% of the adolescents and young adults are or have been using one or more illicit drugs at least once in their life. Men were slightly more likely to ever use drugs and used them more frequently than women. Cannabinoids were by far the most frequently used type of drug, followed by various stimulating drugs and hallucinogens. There is also considerable polysubstance use among 14- to 24-year-olds. Criteria for DSM-IV abuse without dependence were met by 4.1% of all men and 1.8% of all women, a dependence syndrome of any type of illicit drug was diagnosed in 2.5% of the men and 1.6% of the women. Cumulative age of onset incidence analyses suggest that substance use starts early, in about one-third before the age of 16 years and continues to rise for most drugs throughout adolescence and young adulthood. Overall these findings suggest that substance use and substance disorders are more prevalent than suggested in most previous German studies.

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