The 4 Traits That Put Kids at Risk for Addiction


This NY Times article from last fall outlines how a young person’s temperament and personality traits can drive their risk for later drug use. It’s a great read and the following is our own Darryl Inaba’s take on the story:

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Darryl S. Inaba

“I’ve seen this NY Times article and noted that it mirrors many other studies attributing traits generally by about the age of 10-12 when the brain is going through one of its cycles of development to future addiction. Based solely on thinking and behavioral aspects, I was impressed by the work of Drs. Richard and Mary Jessor in Colorado during the 1970s and then work by Dr. Steven Glenn from N. Carolina but he did research in California in the 80s and 90s. Brain imaging research by Dr. Susan F Tapert and the Scripts Institute about 2010 in San Diego found a link of early childhood non-adaptive behaviors as a link to future addiction and her work with Drs. Mark Paulus and Marc Schuckit is very compelling. Dr. David J. Linden in his 2011 Book, Compass of Pleasure has found that very positive traits in preadolescence like intelligence, creativity, drive to succeed, innovation, awareness, charisma, charm etc. were the traits of future addicts. 

Still, the best indicator of future addiction in pre and early adolescence if age of first use of an addictive substance. Huge longitudinal studies and archival studies of those being treated for addiction solidly make this correlation. General numbers are that youth age 10-12 who start experimenting with alcohol, tobacco or marijuana are 4 to 5 times more likely to end up with an addiction than those who wait until they are 17-18 years old to start using. They are also 17-22 times more likely to become an addict compared to those who wait until they are 25 or older before experimenting with addictive drugs.”

-Darryl Inaba

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