We’ve all heard about the theory that one illegal drug can lead to other, more addictive or dangerous illicit drugs. It’s commonly believed that marijuana is the culprit. But a recent study tried to pinpoint if that was true, and tested the theory for licit drugs such as tobacco and alcohol as well.
The results of the study of 12th graders printed in the Journal of School Health, conducted by the University of Michigan, has proved that the real culprit isn’t weed, it’s booze.
“Alcohol represented the “gateway” drug, leading to the use of tobacco, marijuana, and other illicit substances. Moreover, students who used alcohol exhibited a significantly greater likelihood of using both licit and illicit drugs.”
Interesting to note, the study, known as the MTF, or Monitoring the Future, is a much larger initiative.
“Monitoring the Future is an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American secondary school students, college students, and young adults. Each year, a total of approximately 50,000 8th, 10th and 12th grade students are surveyed (12th graders since 1975, and 8th and 10th graders since 1991). In addition, annual follow-up questionnaires are mailed to a sample of each graduating class for a number of years after their initial participation.”
So it’s an ongoing study to track the long-term outcomes. The study also showed that those teens who had consumed alcohol at least once in their lives “were 13 times more likely to use cigarettes, 16 times more likely to use marijuana and other narcotics, and 13 times more likely to use cocaine.”
My personal straw poll and life experiences lead me to agree with the study’s findings. Introducing kids to alcohol early on is not a benign act, nor is it without far reaching consequences. I was raised in such a house, where underage drinking was permitted, and while family isn’t a scientific sample, it did teach me a valuable lesson: booze is not the lesser of all the evils.