Marijuana not gateway drug after all
UPI, December 4, 2006
PITTSBURGH, Dec. 4
(UPI) -- A 12-year University of Pittsburgh study
challenges the long-held belief that marijuana is a
"gateway" drug that eventually leads to substance abuse.
The researchers tracked 214 boys
beginning at ages 10 to 12, all of whom eventually used
either legal or illegal drugs.
When the boys reached age 22 they were
categorized into three groups: those who used only
alcohol or tobacco, those who started with alcohol and
tobacco and then used marijuana -- gateway sequence --
and those who used marijuana prior to alcohol or tobacco
-- reverse sequence.
Nearly one-quarter of the study
population who used both legal and illegal drugs at some
point -- 28 boys -- exhibited the reverse pattern of
using marijuana prior to alcohol or tobacco, and those
individuals were no more likely to develop a
substance-use disorder than those who followed the
traditional succession of alcohol and tobacco before
illegal drugs, according to the study, published in the
American Journal of Psychiatry.
"The gateway progression may be the
most common pattern, but it's certainly not the only
order of drug use," said lead author Ralph E. Tarter,
professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University
of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. "In fact, the reverse
pattern is just as accurate for predicting who might be
at risk for developing a drug dependence disorder."