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Study This: Alcohol and Marijuana Both Considered Gateway Drugs

Studies show alcohol and marijuana are gateway drugs for millions of teens and young adults.

When it is said and done, it really doesn't matter, which study you want to believe.

Alcohol and marijuana are both gateway substances for kids and young adults.   

Earlier this month, a Journal of School Health article indicated that alcohol was the primary substance that led young users towards other drugs.

For the study, researchers crunched the numbers of the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future Survey.

It indicated that alcohol, and not marijuana, was the culprit that ultimately led teens and young adults to harder drugs like prescription drugs, cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and heroin.

This week, Yale University researchers released a study that indicates that marijuana may be more of a gateway drug.

The research focused on the numbers from SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) studies from 2006, 2007, and 2008.

The Yale researchers looked at 55,000 18- to 25-year-olds.

Nearly 6,500, about 12 percent, reported that they were abusing prescription opioids.

Of the group abusing these drugs, about 57 percent had used alcohol and 34 percent had used marijuana.

The study found that, among both men and women, those who had used marijuana were 2.5 times more likely than those their age who abstained to later dabble in prescription drugs.

Based on both studies we can safely say that neither alcohol nor marijuana is the sole gateway to harder drug use.

But it gives parents a pretty good indication that alcohol and marijuana use can be extremeley detrimental to teens, and could lead to future drug abuse.

Parents need to wise up about the "rite of passage" of 18-year-olds drinking.  

They also need to be aware that a teen turning 18 and getting a medical marijuana card is akin to a teen turning 16 and getting their driver's license.

I've spoken with dispensary owners and workers.

They say that a bulk of their patients is younger, between 18 and 21.

Parents also need to lose the "not my kid" mindset.

As we've seen and heard from the accounts of the drug-abusing survivors in Jodi Barber and Christine Brant's "Overtaken," good kids made bad choices and before they knew it, their addiction was out of control.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ronil Bhatia August 25, 2012 at 12:10 AM
You can't just look at those numbers and say that marijuana is what caused those people to experiment with drugs. Correlation does not equal causation. The type of person that is willing to experiment with prescription drugs is the type of person that would also probably try and experiment with marijuana. It doesn't mean that using marijuana is what caused them to later use prescription drugs. I firmly believe the only thing that marijuana could ever be a gateway too is my fridge... or McDonalds
Camaro on Cinderblocks August 25, 2012 at 05:49 AM
Alcohol kills more people then any other substance in the world. End of story.
Renae Wilber August 25, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Looking back into the 70's and many of my friends that ended up dead or in rehab, and those of us that were lucky enough to escape in one piece...it all began with alcohol and smoking pot. Children usually put their foot in the pool to test the water before they jump in all the way...and I say "children" because brain development, particularly the part of the brain that controls impulsive behavior and ignores consequence, is not developed until around the age of 25. Very good article Steve. Thank you for being candid and using your own experience to inform others. I applaud your courage.
Brash Brazen August 26, 2012 at 10:32 AM
The August issue of The Journal of School Health cites a study that finds that "alcohol" not marijuana is the "gateway drug" !!! The study found that a high school senior who's ever consumed an alcoholic beverage is thirteen times more likely to use tobacco or cocaine & sixteen times more likely to use marijuana !!! It turns out that not only were the anti-marijuana zealots wrong,but they've been harboring the real culprit in their liquor cabinets & consuming it themselves for years !!! Quit lying to these people in a self-serving effort to sell your drug testing kits,they're much brighter than you give them credit for being !!! More Americans favor legalizing marijuana than ever before & yours is certainly the minority view as state after state defies the federal government efforts to prevent the inevitable !!! I've been smoking marijuana on a daily basis since I was thirteen & after forty-five years it doesn't appear to have effected my vocabulary or cognitive abilities,so quit lying to people about the horrors of marijuana !!!
Steve Stahovich August 26, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Another pot advocate. What a surprise. Sir, I was juxtaposing two studies to show that the data supports either as a potential gateway drug. Neither study has more or less merit than the other. The issue at hand is adolescence alcohol and drug use. If you were a 13-year old pot smoker and you've been tokin for decades, good for you. You may have been one of the people able to control your habit and not let it evolve into other more dangerous illicit drugs. Opiates kill. As far as me selling anything, my blog post makes absolutely no mention of me selling a product. I was a teen addict. I also saw a lot of people die from drug use and a lot of families destroyed by addiction. Nobody is trying to take away your bong.

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