It goes without saying that reforms and the spread of legalization for adult use over the past decade have changed the way we look at cannabis, making it more accessible. Through this new effort, opponents have regularly raised concerns about increased access to minors. While many studies are already working to debunk the fallacy that more legal cannabis essentially means more use among minors and young people, the new study appears to be a little more extensive.
Researchers at the University of Oklahoma tracked drug use patterns in a cohort of more than 8,000 adolescents (ages 18 to 24) over a six-year period to find out what drugs adolescents typically turn to first. tracked down Ultimately, the study shows that it’s common for young people to try alcohol and tobacco before trying cannabis.
Studies Investigating Drug Use Initiation in the New Cannabis Landscape
the studyA paper titled “Comparing first-time use of cannabis with first-time use of alcohol and tobacco: associations with single- and multi-substance use behaviors” was published in the journal. drug and alcohol addiction.
The study authors found that as of 2022, approximately 145 million Americans will live in states with some form of recreational or medical cannabis use legalization, representing 45% of the U.S. population. He points out that he occupies They also had the highest rates of cannabis use in the past year and past 30 days (23.2%) compared to young people (6.3%), indicating that the legal cannabis market is “particularly relevant to young people (ages 18-24).” There is a possibility,” he said. Adults over the age of 25 (10.4%).
They point out that previous studies examining the order of alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis consumption in young people regularly identified alcohol as a catalyst for subsequent drug use. So the question is, did legal cannabis use change the pattern?
“To the best of our knowledge, those who used cannabis before alcohol and tobacco reported more current polysubstance use and other drug use than those who used cannabis at the same age as alcohol and tobacco. No studies have looked at whether there is a higher risk,” the authors said.
The researchers used data from Waves 1 through 5 of the Tobacco and Health Population Assessment (PATH) Study Accessibility File from September 2013 to November 2019.
Alcohol and tobacco use still precede cannabis use for most young people
They found that few (6%) of adolescents started drug use with cannabis, and those adolescents were less likely to use alcohol in their lifetime and report substance abuse and mental health problems. . The majority of those who started cannabis exclusively were men (62.3%), more than one-third were non-Hispanic white (38.3%), and the majority had a high school diploma or GED or below (65%), whereas 34.9% At least I had college experience.
They also found that those who started using cannabis at the same time as consuming alcohol or tobacco (22%) were more likely to report multiple drug use later in life.
The study suggests that 52% of respondents took alcohol before other controlled substances, suggesting that alcohol remains the most common drug intake.
“Alcohol is tried overwhelmingly more than tobacco or cannabis,” the authors conclude.
“It is unusual to start cannabis at an earlier age than alcohol or tobacco. and less likely to have multiple substance use and mental health vulnerabilities.”
“Finally, the odds of reporting current and multiple substance use were highest among adolescents who started cannabis at the same age as alcohol and tobacco,” he added.
Supporting Past Research Findings and Combating the ‘Gateway Drug’ Stereotype
As the researchers noted, the results are consistent with previous studies and are simply up-to-date and better reflect the current realities of the expanding cannabis market.
one 2016 survey Similarly, they found that alcohol was the first substance consumed by those who reported polypharmacy later in life. Researchers assessed drug use patterns in a nationally representative sample of 2,835 high school seniors. Not only was alcohol the most common first-line drug, researchers found that the sooner people started using alcohol, the more likely they were to turn to illicit drug use in the future. Said expensive.
Many other studies have attempted to examine the long-held claim that cannabis is a “gateway drug” that leads to further drug use. the study offal It has repeatedly been found that this claim carries little weight.