New Research Indicates Marijuana Really Can Be a Gateway Drug for Teens

New Research Indicates Marijuana Really Can Be a Gateway Drug for Teens

Marijuana is widely used by teenagers as a recreational drug. The effects of using marijuana during the teen years have been debated, with some calling marijuana a “gateway drug” that leads to the use of more potent illegal drugs. Some parents consider using marijuana as a normal part of teenage life, while other parents believe marijuana is a warning sign of more trouble to come.

There is a new warning for parents who have a teenager that uses marijuana. A recent study has found that even light cannabis use can lead to problems in the future. The study was led by researcher Louisa Degenhardt from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW.

The study recruited 2,000 school children in Australia. The children were tracked over a decade. The results of the study indicate that children who used cannabis occasionally at the age of 13 and 14 were at a higher risk for using ecstasy, cocaine or amphetamines at the age of 24.

Even those who used marijuana lightly were also at risk for addiction. The study showed that the individuals who used cannabis lightly at age 13 or 14 became addicted as adults at a rate of one in 10.

In addition, the study revealed that a third of teens who used marijuana lightly were taking harder drugs in their twenties, compared with only 11 percent for those who had not used marijuana during their teen years.

The study also highlighted a link between light marijuana use and alcohol. The research indicated that 15 percent of individuals who used marijuana lightly in teen years were addicted to alcohol early in adulthood. Only 9 percent of those who had not used marijuana were addicted to alcohol in early adulthood.

The results of the study suggest a warning for teenagers who have used marijuana only as a recreational drug on occasion. Prior research has shown that regular use of the drug was harmful, but that light use may be of little concern. This study highlights the need for education about even the light use of marijuana.

“What it definitely says is that early onset occasional cannabis use is a marker for being more likely to be engaging in a whole range of drug use behaviors in young adulthood,” said Degenhardt.

The findings of this study suggest that parents take heed of warnings that cannabis use in teen years may cause problems later in early adulthood, even if the use of marijuana is occasional and light.
 

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