Early predictors of age at first use of alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes

John P. Fleming*, Sheppard G. Kellam, C. Hendricks Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


This paper is a report of the relationships between various measures of social adaptation to the first grade classroom and the age at which alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana were first used by teenagers who began elementary school in a poor black urban community on the South Side of Chicago. Prospective longitudinal community epidemiological data were collected periodically in first and third grades from consecutive total cohorts of children in the 1960s. The 1966-1967 population (cohort 3) was followed up at age 16 or 17. This population of 705 children is reported on here regarding early predictors of their first use of these substances. There are three main findings: 1. (1) boys tended to use all substances at an earlier age than girls; 2. (2) students who performed better on first grade IQ and Readiness tests tended to initiate substance use at an earlier age; 3. (3) girls (but not boys) who were rated by their first grade teachers as shy or having learning problems tended to initiate use at a later age. The relationships of these findings to our past investigations of paths leading to substance use are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-303
Number of pages19
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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