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Medicine News

Study Finds Alcohol, Not Marijuana, Is the Biggest Gateway Drug For Teens 459

An anonymous reader writes with news of a study out of the University of Florida which found that alcohol is the biggest "gateway" drug, the use of which increases the likelihood of other drug use. Quoting: "In the sample of students, alcohol also represented the most commonly used substance, with 72.2 percent of students reporting alcohol consumption at some point in their lifetime. Comparatively, 45 percent of students reported using tobacco, and 43.3 percent cited marijuana use. In addition, the drug use documented found that substance use typically begins with the most socially acceptable drugs, such as alcohol and cigarettes, then proceeds to marijuana use and finally to other illegal, harder drugs. Moreover, the study showed that students who used alcohol exhibited a significantly greater likelihood — up to 16 times — of licit and illicit substance use."
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Study Finds Alcohol, Not Marijuana, Is the Biggest Gateway Drug For Teens

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  • by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @05:38PM (#40620851) Homepage Journal

    98% percent* of people have taken caffeine at least once in their lifetimes. Clearly, it is the true gateway drug.

    (* statistic made up for illustrative purposes.)

  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QRDeNameland ( 873957 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @05:45PM (#40621001)
    I wonder if it's a coincidence that this came out within two weeks of the death of the asshole [celebstoner.com] who was widely credited with originating this propaganda.
  • by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @06:12PM (#40621505)
    It's more post hoc, ergo proper hoc (after that, therefore because of that). Just because someone tried drug X first does not mean taking drug X caused the person to begin taking other drugs. The very idea of a magic "gateway drug" that if we could get people to stop using would cause people to no longer abuse drugs is ludicrous. It's just a way of making marijuana look bad, because that's been the purported gateway drug for decades. I think alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and aspirin are more likely to be the first drug someone has taken rather than marijuana.
  • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @06:38PM (#40621903) Homepage Journal

    Over a decade ago, I used to get my weed through a guy who wasn't yet 21. He was dealing to pay to go to college without having to hold down a job at the same time. Every time I'd go to pick up from him (and I found he did this to several other over-21 clients as well), he made us go to the liquor store and buy him beer as part of his payment. His mother knew he was dealing, and why so many people came around, but I think she had decided that was better than joining a gang or failing his classes because he was working all night flipping burgers. She also didn't seem to have a problem with him drinking, but she refused to buy alcohol for him. (She did, however, smoke his weed.)

    There was another guy who I bought from, who liked to shoot the rats that ran across the cables outside his balcony. Since it was just a BB gun, all it ever did was knock the rats off the wire. It was only about a 10 foot drop, and they'd bounce off the ground and climb back up again. Then he'd shoot them again.

  • Re:gateway (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @07:07PM (#40622295) Journal
    Even so, to label something a "gateway drug", you'll have to show a causal relationship, or at least examine the correlation under different conditions.

    Case in point: in my home country of the Netherlands, marihuana is (semi-)legal and freely available. Guess what: while there are more people in the Netherlands who have at some point tried marihuana (per capita), the number of regular users is actually lower than in the USA. Furthermore, we do not have a significantly higher number of users of hard drugs either. Which makes sense: the American pushing pot is breaking the law at the risk of a stiff prison sentence. He'll be more likely to cheerfully sell you something more potent as well. In the Netherlands, licensed coffee shop proprietors enjoy a legal and profitable trade in soft drugs; they are unlikely to risk all that by selling hard drugs on the side (besides, they are checked on a regular basis).

    It's not the drug itsef that's the gateway to the nastier stuff. It's the person that is selling it to you. Legalising soft drugs doesn't mean allowing a gateway drug into the hands of your youngsters, it means that you're controlling the gateway and making it less likely that kids come into contact with hard drugs.
  • by cusco ( 717999 ) <brian,bixby&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @07:09PM (#40622321)
    If you follow the money very far you'll find that the banking industry is one of the most opposed to rationalizing drug laws, and it's not hard to figure out why. Money laundering, a.k.a. "private banking" is one of the most lucrative sectors of the financial services industry, with fees averaging 10-15 percent for mostly automated transactions. The US is the world's largest money laundry, with over $1,000,000,000,000 (yeah, a trillion dollars) being laundered here every year, about half of it being related to drugs and the rest to frauds, tax cheats, weapons, etc. How happy would the financial services industry be with their pet congresscritters if $50-$75 billion in almost pure profit were to evaporate? It's so lucrative that Clinton's Treasury Secretary went directly from "public service" to running the private banking branch of CitiCorp, one of the world's biggest money launderers, where he engineered the takeover of BanaMex (a.k.a. 'the drug smuggler's bank of choice') and its extremely valuable customer list.

    I highly recommend Catherine Austin Fitts's three-part series called "NarcoDollars for Beginners" found on the Narconews.com web site (it's also mirrored all over, without permission, as "NarcoDollars for Dummies").
  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:41PM (#40623779)

    It can trigger psychotic episodes in mentally ill people.

    Being a daily user of over 10 years (both illegally and now legally) and having suffered a triggered psychotic episode, the problem is certain people like myself can be very sensitive to high THC levels. Many grower-bred strains, particularly Sativas, are bred for high THC levels as it's an active, energetic high and can be very pleasant. However, under the right conditions and a vulnerable individual, it can cause severe anxiety, racing thoughts (exacerbated even by paranoia of doing something illegal) and even outright delusions. Another substance in marijuana is CBD, which has the opposite effect, and is more prevalent in Indicas. Research has actually shown it to act as an antipsychotic, neuroprotectant, inhibit tumor growth in both brain and lung cancers, and generally makes you feel sleepy and sedated. On the street, you generally never know the levels in what you are getting, and even at some dispensaries, unless you know the strain and the of THC and CBD of that family. If you get a THC dominant strain and a vulnerable individual uses it, yes, it can trigger a psychotic episode. That said, now that I have access to safe, reliable and professionally grown marijuana where I know exactly the contents of strains, I can choose carefully and it has worked wonders for my chronic pain and anxiety.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fearofcarpet ( 654438 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:37AM (#40625447)

    I bet the list of things that can trigger psychotic episodes in mentally ill people includes pretty much everything.

    The only honest to goodness negative reaction I've ever seen with marijuana use (outside of the physical effects like smoking too much and getting the spins/nauseous) is increased anxiety, and that was only a couple times, both times involving someone that probably didn't want to smoke in the first place and was just doing so to "go along with the crowd" and hadn't really gotten high before, so the effects freaked them out.

    In those cases, though, I find it hard to blame the weed itself for that; nobody should consume an intoxicating substance just to "fit in", but then we've all been to high school and now how THAT goes...

    On the other hand, I have "high anxiety" in that I used to suffer from panic attacks, but marijuana actually calms me and mitigates the attacks completely. Many people with high anxiety self-medicate with marijuana--in my case because I trust a plant that has been in continuous use by humans for thousands of years over a for-profit company that invents drugs by trial and error. On the other hand, I have encountered plenty of people who can't touch the stuff because it makes them paranoid and anxious and many of them benefit tremendously from prescription pharmaceuticals--to each their own. The effects vary by dose, strain, delivery method, and person. It's not for everyone, but others absolutely adore it. One thing it is not is addictive as anyone who was once a broke college student knows. I'm sure someone has linked to this essay [marijuana-uses.com] already, but Carl Sagan summed it up pretty well.

    On a side note, I have two younger step-siblings. One has been off of heroin for a couple of years and the other is in rehab. Both got hooked in their teens. When I was a teenager, "everyone" knew that pot was completely harmless and that heroin was horribly addictive. Meth was a different story; it was the "new" drug and I saw a lot of people ruin their lives with that stuff. My siblings, on the other hand, grew up in the era of "Drugs are bad, mmm-kay" where they were taught that marijuana is a "gateway drug" and it is just as bad as all the others--a Schedule I narcotic just like LSD and heroin. The message they seemed to have absorbed is "I tried pot and it was pretty mellow--so all these other drugs can't be that bad." I mean, look at the propaganda on whitehouse.gov [whitehouse.gov]. Sure, they don't out-and-out lie, but they try so hard to make marijuana seem dangerous: "In 2009, marijuana was involved in 376,000 emergency department visits nationwide." Yah, and I bet 100% of those cases also involved alcohol! The LD50 for pot is about the same as H20... The point is that informing kids about drugs works--but not if you lie to them. No one told us about meth and all my step-siblings got was fact-free propaganda.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.