The Gateway Drug Theory suggests that licit drugs, such as tobacco and alcohol, serve as a “gateway” toward the use of other, illicit drugs. A recent study among high school students determined that alcohol - not marijuana - was the major gateway drug.

In case you missed it, there's a heroin epidemic in the United States. Find out why in this video:

One can also say there's an alcohol epidemic in the United States among high school students. 

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida determined that alcohol is more of a gateway drug to cocaine and heroin use than marijuana. Yes, you read that right. 

The study, published in The Journal of School Health, monitored 12th graders to conclude "students who used alcohol exhibited a significantly greater likelihood of using both licit and illicit drugs."

To me, this makes sense. First of all, it's far more easier for 12th graders to come across alcohol than any other substance. Then think of how a person acts on alcohol (yes, "ON" alcohol - because it IS a drug).

One of the first effects of alcohol is that it significantly lowers personal inhibitions. 

When a person drinks a large amount of alcohol, the brain releases dopamine, the chemical that helps people feel good. While this often helps people feel relaxed, it has also caused millions of people to engage in extremely risky behaviors with life-changing repercussions. 

According to many alcohol abuse websites, such as, alcohol fuels any ofthe following behaviors:

  • Risky sexual behavior (i.e. - unprotected sex)
  • Criminal activity
  • Fighting and other violence
  • Making inappropriate comments to friends, family or co-workers
  • The use of other drugs to feel even higher
  • Driving under the influence

Just like prescription pills and tobacco, alcohol is seen as more socially acceptable in American society because the government approves of it. 

According to the study’s co-author, Adam E. Barry, the later in life that a person consumes alcohol, the less likely they are to abuse drugs. Also, it seems that in most cases, use of alcohol and tobacco comes earlier in life than the use of marijuana.

Oddly enough, if you take a look at marijuana use among teens in states where marijuana is legal, a recent study proved there's been either the same amount of use, or in some instances, less use than when the drug was illegal.  

Barry said in an interview with Raw Story:

By delaying the onset of alcohol initiation, rates of both licit substance abuse like tobacco and illicit substance use like marijuana and other drugs will be positively affected, and they’ll hopefully go down. 

Barry also said that his studies were intended to correct some of the propaganda that has infected American culture since the “Reefer Madness” era.

Raw Story reports that Barry's research compared substance abuse rates between drinkers and non-drinkers, and ultimately found that high school seniors 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.”

The study concludes 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." 

These findings also support a study published in 2010 in the medical journal Lancet. That study ranked alcohol as the most harmful drug of all, above heroin, crack, meth, cocaine, and tobacco. 

As a result, Barry's research team urged school and public health officials to focus their prevention efforts and policies on addressing adolescent alcohol use.

Do you think alcohol lobbyists will get behind that? Sound off below! 

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.

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