The Drug Class Blog

Jul 12


First Things First - Gateways

Where do things start?

A recent study included data on more than 14,500 high-school students from 120 schools across U.S. The data was obtained from Monitoring the Future study.

This study analyzed the data to find out what substances were being tried by students. They checked for use of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD, amphetamines, tranquilizers and other narcotics. Alcohol was the first substance to be tried by students, the results showed.

Adam Barry, an assistant professor and researcher in the College of Health and Human Performance at the University of Florida said "By recognizing the important predictive role of alcohol and delaying initiation of alcohol use, school officials and public health leaders can positively impact the progression of substance use. I am confident in our findings and the clear implications they have for school-based prevention programs. By delaying and/or preventing the use of alcohol, these programs can indirectly reduce the rate of use of other substances,".
"These findings add further credence to the literature identifying alcohol as the gateway drug to other substance use,"

What he doesn't say is that early marijuana use is also problematic and delaying the first use of that drug should also be a goal of prevention/education programs..

Estimates from surveys in U.S say that by age 17 most teenagers, between 59 percent and 71 percent, had consumed alcohol, 31 percent to 44 percent had tried cannabis, and 4 percent to 6 percent had tried cocaine, in a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Researchers say that parents should prevent teenagers from drinking. Alcohol is commonly available and is considered more acceptable than other substances but many studies have shown that alcohol abuse in early years can make teenagers more likely to abuse other drugs.
The study doesn't clearly define how drug abuse actually starts but it does provide some idea about a good intervention program to keep children from becoming long-term drug abusers.

Parents need to be comfortable with the idea that a strict, zero-tolerance policy at home is best.
Increasing alcohol-specific rules with consequences and decreasing the availability of alcohol will help prevent a teen's alcohol use.

The longer that alcohol first use is delayed, the more likely that other drug or substance use will be delayed or prevented and the less likely that substance use problems will develop.

What do you think?

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