Study: Teens’ Use Of Alcohol Most Typically Precedes Illicit Drug Consumption

Lafayette, IN: Adolescents’ use of alcohol, not cannabis, typically precedes teens’ use of other illicit substances, according to data published in the Journal of School Health.

Investigators from the Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health Center in Lafayette and the University of Florida at Gainesville analyzed government survey data regarding high school seniors’ use of licit and illicit substances. They reported: "[A]lcohol 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."

Authors concluded, "The findings from this investigation support that alcohol should receive primary attention in school-based substance abuse prevention programming, as the use of other substances could be impacted by delaying or preventing alcohol use."

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, Alcohol as a Gateway Drug: A Study of US 12th Graders," appears in the Journal of School Health.