Boys are more likely to be curious about substances than girls. According to a recent study by a University of Michigan researcher using data from a large national project said that 1 in 10 pre-teen children already say they're curious about using alcohol or tobacco products, and 1 in 50 say they're curious about using marijuana. Additionally, as many as 3% of the nearly 12,000 9- and 10-year-olds surveyed say they already have a friend who uses one of these substances.
The study says that those who said that they were curious were also much more likely to be curious about trying alcohol or tobacco and other nicotine-containing products themselves.
When asked to parents of these kids, up to 35% of the children's parents said their kids may have easy access to alcohol at home, while smaller percentages said the same about tobacco (7%) or marijuana (3%), whereas, about 25% of parents said they hadn't yet set rules for their pre-teen children about whether they're allowed to use these substances.
The lead author of the paper and a research assistant professor specializing in the development of substance use disorders in the Department of Psychiatry at Michigan Medicine, PhD Meghan Martz said that the information from the study could help future efforts to tailor preventive messages and measures, and identify children most at risk of future problems.
“We were very surprised by the percentage of parents – more than 25% of the entire group -- who hadn't made any explicit rules about substance use for children this age. Compared to all other race/ethnicity groups, Black parents were the most likely to have made rules against substance use, suggesting this subgroup, in particular, may be using early protective strategies." Martz said
"The earlier in adolescence a child begins using these substances, the greater the potential impact on brain development and functioning," she explained. "Their household environments and messaging from parents can play a major role at this age, while the influence of peers will become more important over time."