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Study Says Marijuana No Gateway Drug Science Blog

Study Says Marijuana No Gateway Drug Science Blog

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Study says marijuana no gateway drug | Science BlogSkip to contentAboutContactPopular todayReader blogsFind a jobScience shopRegister/LoginHome » contentStudy says marijuana no gateway drugMarijuana is not a “gateway” drug that predicts or eventually leads to substanceabuse, suggests a 12-year University of Pittsburgh study. Moreover, the study’sfindings call into question the long-held belief that has shaped preventionefforts and governmental policy for six decades and caused many a parent topanic upon discovering a bag of pot in their child’s bedroom.The Pitt researchers tracked 214 boys beginning at ages 10-12, all of whomeventually used either legal or illegal drugs. When the boys reached age 22,they were categorized into three groups: those who used only alcohol or tobacco,those who started with alcohol and tobacco and then used marijuana (gatewaysequence) and those who used marijuana prior to alcohol or tobacco (reversesequence).Nearly a quarter of the study population who used both legal and illegal drugsat some point – 28 boys – exhibited the reverse pattern of using marijuana priorto alcohol or tobacco, and those individuals were no more likely to develop asubstance use disorder than those who followed the traditional succession ofalcohol and tobacco before illegal drugs, according to the study, which appearsin this month’s issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.“The gateway progression may be the most common pattern, but it’s certainly notthe only order of drug use,” said Ralph E. Tarter, Ph.D., professor ofpharmaceutical sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy andlead author of the study. “In fact, the reverse pattern is just as accurate forpredicting who might be at risk for developing a drug dependence disorder.”In addition to determining whether the gateway hypothesis was a better predictorof substance abuse than competing theories, the investigators sought to identifycharacteristics that distinguished users in the gateway sequence from those whotook the reverse path. Out of the 35 variables they examined, only three emergedto be differentiating factors: Reverse pattern users were more likely to havelived in poor physical neighborhood environments, had more exposure to drugs intheir neighborhoods and had less parental involvement as young children. Mostimportantly, a general inclination for deviance from sanctioned behaviors, whichcan become evident early in childhood, was strongly associated with all illicitdrug use, whether it came in the gateway sequence, or the reverse.While the gateway theory posits that each type of drug is associated withcertain specific risk factors that cause the use of subsequent drugs, such ascigarettes or alcohol leading to marijuana, this study’s findings indicate thatenvironmental aspects have stronger influence on which type of substance isused. That is, if it’s easier for a teen to get his hands on marijuana thanbeer, then he’ll be more likely to smoke pot. This evidence supports what’sknown as the common liability model, an emerging theory that states thelikelihood that someone will transition to the use of illegal drugs isdetermined not by the preceding use of a particular drug but instead by theuser’s individual tendencies and environmental circumstances.“The emphasis on the drugs themselves, rather than other, more important factorsthat shape a person’s behavior, has been detrimental to drug policy andprevention programs,” Dr. Tarter said. “To become more effective in our effortsto fight drug abuse, we should devote more attention to interventions thataddress these issues, particularly to parenting skills that shape the child’sbehavior as well as peer and neighborhood environments.”Indeed, according to the study, interventions focusing on behavior modificationmay be more effective prevention tactics than current anti-drug initiatives. Forexample, providing guidance to parents – particularly those in high-riskneighborhoods – on how to boost their caregiving skills and foster bonding withtheir children, could have a measurable effect on a child’s likelihood to smokemarijuana. Also, early identification of children who exhibit antisocial
tendencies could allow for interventions before drug use even begins.Although this research has significant implications for drug abuse preventionapproaches, Dr. Tarter notes that the study has some limitations. First, as onlymale behaviors were studied, further investigation should explore if the resultsapply to women as well. Also, the examination of behaviors in phases beyondalcohol and marijuana consumption in the gateway series will be necessary.From University of Pittsburgh Medical CenterPrinter-friendly versiondrug dependencepharmaceuticalRalph E. TarterSocial Issuessubstance usedisorderthe American Journal of PsychiatryUniversity of PittsburghPermalinkDecember 4, 2006 Commentsblazed from denverNovember 11, 2009 by Anonymous, 4 days 11 hours agoComment id: 46115 i agree with you completely doing drugs is the personschoice... it sounds like youve rolled a few timesreplyAmerican EuphoriaNovember 7, 2009 by Anonymous, 1 week 1 day agoComment id: 46022 American EuphoriabyRichard Wilmot Ph.D.dr.docwilmot@gmail.comPREFACEEven though most psychoactive drugs in America are illegal, there are so manydrug problems in this country that experts have termed drug abuse an epidemic.Yet our knowledge of drugs and drug use and abuse is inadequate. How much is toomuch? What does “getting high,” mean to the drug user? Are you an addict or alabel?The purpose of writing this book is to answer questions such as these. The ideasand analysis presented here views “addiction” from a new and differentperspective. It is a holistic approach to drug/alcohol use and abuse that willhelp to question current drug treatment and drug policy authority.Do the current perspectives on alcohol and drug abuse need to be questioned?After spending more than twenty years as a drug abuse counselor, researcher andeducator, I believe they do. It is time for reform. It’s time for a change inthinking about euphoric drugs in general. It’s time for critical thinking aboutdrug issues.My passion for drug studies grew out of my own experience with a variety ofdrugs, with the drug subculture while in college and later working in the“culture of recovery”. After having worked for the Addiction Research Foundationin Toronto, Canada, I received a scholarship to complete a specialized graduatedegree (Ph.D.) in Drug Studies at the University of California at San Diego andspent years in the recovery field from doing research, drug counseling clientson Skid row as well as those in the film industry, editing the Journal of DrugIssues, lecturing at the Drug Policy Foundation in Washington D.C., and teachingcourses in Drug Studies.This book focuses on the divisions between the “recovery culture” and the “drugculture”. Simply put, members of the drug culture have an acceptance of drug usewhile the recovery culture has an abstinence only approach. They are exclusivesubcultures with little communication or acceptance of each other… although theculture of recovery is considerably more politically powerful. When one enterstreatment, one must become an active, participating member in the recoveryculture or risk becoming a treatment failure. One must drop all ties andinterests in the drug culture and become committed only to the culture ofrecovery. Recovery, from the standpoint of the “culture of recovery” must be oneof “higher power” conversion.Acknowledging that “addicts” could benefit from some of their drug experiencesor part of their drug culture experience is unthinkable from the perspective of
orthodox recovery. From the position of rehabilitation, all drug use is bad andany use is unacceptable. The people, places, and things that are associated withthe drug culture must be disavowed. They are “triggers” to further drug use.Everything about the drug subculture is anathema from tattoos to clothingstyles.Yet over my years in the fields of drug studies and treatment, I realized thatmuch of what treatment had to say about “addiction” and the “addicts” themselveswas based on stereotypes, stigmatization, ignorance, arrogance, and outrightbigotry. Perhaps this is why eight out of every ten people entering recovery goback to using drugs.Historically there are a number of well-adjusted persons who made outstandingcontributions to society, and took euphoric drugs. I have witnessed the same:people doing things that the recovery culture claimed were not possible forsomeone who regularly used drugs. These people would have been labeled “addicts”had they been noticed or caught. They were not “victims” of drugs; they hadtheir use under control even though some used daily e.g. Pope Leo XIII. Thishistory of controlled drug use led me to wonder about the differences betweenthose whose drug use was non-problematic and those who abused.Traditional thinking is that the difference is physiological. Addicts aredifferent biologically. They are allergic to alcohol or another drug; they havea “genetic predisposition” to abuse; they have “addictive personalities”. Thescientific evidence for each of these perspectives is in dispute. Essentiallythere are those who understand “addiction” to be a controllable behavior andthere are those who believe addiction is a disease. Yet the “treatment” for the“disease” of addiction” focuses on “character defects” and surrender to a“Higher Power” i.e. healing by faith.Rather, the most recent thinking is that “getting high: or “alteringconsciousness” is a universal biological drive arising out of the innatestructure of the human brain. In other words, we are all “hard wired” to get“high”.Viewing intoxication as a biological inevitability gives us a betterunderstanding of how drug use differs from drug abuse. Such use is notnecessarily immoral or pathological but natural. Much like sex, drug use forhumans is a natural drive. Everyone has a need to alter their consciousness andthey will do so even at their own peril… from sky diving to smoking “crack”cocaine. The challenge for society is to address this biologically based need to“alter consciousness” in safe, non-abusive ways that will provide people withthe “peak experiences” they universally crave. Furthermore, there is anon-abusive code for “getting high” that can be learned so that people who drinkor take other drugs do not end-up embarrassed , sick, dependent or dead.To paraphrase this book: the ways in which we talk about drugs both to ourselvesand to others perpetuates many of the problems with drugs. The content of whatwe have to say about drugs is a reflection of our puritan culture and ourpersonal history.The answer to our current drug abuse dilemma is to: “just say know” to drugs.This book intends to further that process. The next major civil rights issue tobe addressed in America will be the decriminalization of drug use.replyAsk yourselves this questionNovember 6, 2009 by Anonymous, 1 week 2 days agoComment id: 46001 Ask yourselves this question then..if marijuana is bad..howcome Barack Obama openly admitts that in his time he did COCAINE and MARIJUANA.Does anyone know why? because obviously its not that bad..marijuana can be usedfor so many reasons besides what people think..its used to relieve anxiety andanger and it stops pain AND theres never been a recorded death to a overdose ofmarijuana..its safer then Ibuprofen and its ILLEGAL? why is that? Can anyoneanswer that question with out lies?replySeriouly?November 4, 2009 by Anonymous, 1 week 4 days ago

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