Study: The ‘Gateway Drug’ Is Alcohol, Not Marijuana

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How many times have you heard that marijuana is a ‘gateway drug’ that leads to more harmful drugs? It’s constantly used to fuel the negative stigma that’s  associated with marijuana. Previously, there was no science behind this claim. In fact, all the science associated with marijuana continues to detail its tremendous therapeutic potential for a wide range of human ailments. It’s important to note that therapeutic potentials are reached when it’s taken transdermally, not by smoking it. By smoking it, you change the chemical composition of the plant.

A study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of School Health has found that the theory of a “gateway drug” is not associated with marijuana, but rather rather one of the most damaging and socially accepted drug in the world, alcohol. (1)

The purpose of the study was to investigate and determine which drug (alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana) was the actual “gateway” drug that leads to additional substance abuse, and it used a nationally representative sample of high school seniors.

Again, results indicated that alcohol represented the “gateway” drug, which in turn lead to the use of tobacco, marijuana, and other substances. Furthermore, students who used alcohol “exhibited a significantly greater likelihood of using both licit and illicit drugs.”

The study 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. Therefore, it seems prudent for school and public health officials to focus prevention efforts, policies, and monies, on addressing adolescent alcohol use.

This study is great to help lift the stigmatism that’s often associated with marijuana. It makes absolutely no sense that alcohol and smoking cigarettes is legal, with extremely devastating health effects, while marijuana remains illegal with no demonstrated lethal health effects. In fact, scientists have discovered that cannabis may reduce brain damage caused by alcohol. You can read more about that here.

It’s time for us to view marijuana for exactly what it is, a therapeutic healing herb that should be used for therapeutic medicinal purposes. Within the past few years, there has been a tremendous surge of awareness with regards to the healing power of cannabis, especially in relation to cancer. You can read more about that here.

It’s also important to note that, while drugs like alcohol could and do indeed lead to other harmful substance abuse, the main issue with drug problems  is the inner state of the user. Some human beings use drugs to escape reality and run away from problems they do not want to face. Many are lacking from within, so they seek from without.  Many people here do not feel well, as a result we seek external substances to make us feel better. While these substances may provide a temporary escape, nothing will ever go away until it is cleared from within. We must learn to let go of what hurts us. We need to face our issues, go through the emotions that make us turn towards substance abuse without reaching out for a quick fix. By using substances to cover up our issues, we are only hurting ourselves more.



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CE provides a space for free thinkers to explore and discuss new, alternative information and ideas. The goal? Question everything, think differently, spread love and live a joy filled life.

  1. SJ

    “Human beings use drugs to escape reality and run away from problems they do not want to face.”

    That’s such a terrible, lazy stereotype. Humans use drugs for a thousand reasons; i.e. social lubrication, boredom, to experience the many different mind-states humans can be in, to commune with their gods, the search for transcendence, etc. Some might use them to escape reality (whatever that is), but FAR from all.

    • adam

      All those can fall into the category of “escaping reality”

    • - Collective Evolution

      Indeed, that’s why I put “Some” human beings.

      • SJ

        You’re right, my mistake. I actually didn’t see the “Some”…I wasn’t intentionally trying to misquote you. Nonetheless, the idea that even a good chunk of drug use is about “escapism” is pernicious and false.

        • doom

          “Nonetheless, the idea that even a good chunk of drug use is about “escapism” is pernicious and false.”

          How do you know?

      • Some human beings actually equals a huge amount of human beings – Alcohol is not seen as a drug but is in fact a drug if you understand that it diminishes responsibility and causes people to act out of character etc etc. Thus ‘some’ human beings = an awful lot of human beings. Escaping reality is a desire to change how you feel, or an inability to deal with your situation/feelings etc – If you are guided by a medicine man, for eg, to take drugs you might have a chance, but alcohol is just considered normal, so a lot of people are in denial about that. I think marijuana is a sneaky little drug as well & needs to be handled with extreme caution.

  2. MC

    While there are some parts that I do agree with I have to say that i’m a bit doubtful as to how accurate this article is. I may be wrong but it seems to me that all you have done is simply stated what ‘research’ shows without actually explaining what the research really is or how it shows alcohol to be a gateway drug. For all we know the research vould have been a questionnaire only answered by high school students using marijuana or open to the use of it. I do agree it is stupid for alcohol and cigarettes to be legal when the effects appear to be far more damaging than marijuana however I do beleive marijuana to be a gateway drug for those people ‘chasing a high’.

    • Those who chase a high should be allowed to chase that high. Though damaging it is not our place to tell a person not to live like that. We can warn them of the dangers but that is it. You shouldn’t force a person to stop. This means not everyone chases a high.

  3. I'm hungry so I'm eating chicken

    The amount of people I know who drink and then take other drugs that they wouldn’t take sober is incredible. I know people who have taken coke about 9 times but only while intoxicated. Or even people smoking… I know loyal non smokers that refuse to have one unless their drinking. It completely makes sense as to how alcohol is the gateway. It hinders your ability to care about what your doing. As for marajuana being a gateway drug… Won’t any drug be a gateway drug? If your really into getting high… Won’t the first drug you take.. Whether is be coke or mdma… Be the gateway to others? Doesn’t matter what it is… Once the doors of getting high are opened… They’re opened

    • No because I don’t ever have a need, when using pot, to go drink beer, or smoke cigs anymore. Pot is enough and it relaxes me and helps with my depression. I am also eating healthier and exercising more. Alcohol is a gateway drug. I don’t mind a beer for old times sake but eventually booze will be gone, this being a long time from now, because pot makes everyone happier and it’s more satisfying because it doesn’t make you feel like crap all the time or deal with nasty hang overs. Best part, you can’t over dose.

      • I take that back, you can overdose but that level of intoxication is beyond improbable because of how much of it you need at one time and how much that would cost.
        No one is going to spend that much money to get a level close to intoxication.

  4. MLE

    While I agree with the general statement this article is making, I agree there may be some factual flaws. One being that, for certain ailments, marijuana has no benefit when applied topically to ones skin, but is therapeutic when ingested. Epilepsy, is one of these conditions, one with which I am very familiar as I have epilepsy.

  5. Alex Macksey

    Took my first shot of tequila at 12, smoked my first joint at 14. Gateway = alcohol.

  6. Behind the Beautiful Forevers.

  7. Ann Williams

    The FDA and state laws of both controlling regulatory agencies define beer, wine and spirituous liquors as “Food.” That’s why it is in the grocery department, not the drug department in grocery stores. Also, I could find ten more credible sources that refute this article. The government will pay top dollar for organizations to fabricate statistics or studies to back up a new revenue agenda by misconstruing alcohol to mean “Rubbing Alcohol.”


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