By Steve Elliott
Yet another scientific study has been added to the mountain of evidence debunking to so-called “gateway theory,” which maintains that marijuana use leads to harder drugs.
Teens instead smoke cannabis for very specific reasons, researchers report in the new study, and it is those same reasons which sometimes prompt them to try other drugs, reports Dennis Thompson at HealthDay News .
Youths who use marijuana because they are bored, for example, are more likely to also use cocaine, while kids using weed to achieve insight or understanding are more likely to try psilocybin mushrooms, according to the findings, recently published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
“We found that marijuana use within itself wasn’t a risk factor for use of other drugs,” said lead author Joseph Palamar, assistant professor in the department of population health at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “People do generally use marijuana before other drugs, but that doesn’t marijuana is a cause of [using] those other drugs.”
The researchers based their conclusions on data gathered from Monitoring the Future, on ongoing study of the behaviors of American high school students. About 15,000 high school seniors are questioned each year.
This analysis focused on high school seniors surveyed between 2000 and 201 who had reported using cannabis within the past year. Researchers also reported the teens’ self-reported use of eight other illegal drugs, including powder cocaine, crack, heroin, LSD, other psychedelics, amphetamines, tranquilizers and other narcotics.
Nearly a third of the teens said they use marijuana to address boredom. Those teens were 43 percent more likely to try cocaine and 56 percent more likely to try a psychedelic drug other than LSD, the researchers found.