Adolescent substance use: a prospective longitudinal model of substance use onset among South African adolescents

19 Aug 2013

Substance use onset among Colored adolescents between eighth and ninth grades in an urban area of Cape Town, South Africa was examined using latent transition analysis. Longitudinal self-report data regarding substance use (N = 1118, 50.9% female) were collected in 2004 and 2005. Results indicated that the pattern of onset was similar across genders; adolescents first tried either alcohol or cigarettes, followed by both, then dagga (cannabis), and then inhalants. The prevalence of lifetime cigarette use was slightly greater for females; dagga (cannabis) and inhalant use were greater for males. The similarity of developmental onset in the current sample to previous international work supports the promise of adapting prevention programs across contexts. The study’s limitations are noted.