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Yale study: Alcohol’s gateway effect much larger than marijuana’s

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A Yale study published Tuesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that people who used alcohol or tobacco in their youth are almost twice as likely to abuse prescription opiate drugs than those who only used marijuana.

Researchers were careful to specify that any youth substance abuse, including just marijuana use, makes people more than twice as likely to abuse prescription opiate drugs in young adulthood. However, the study’s authors noted that clinical data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that of the 12 percent of young adults who said they’d abused prescription opiates, “prevalence of previous substance use was 57% for alcohol, 56% for cigarettes, and 34% for marijuana.”

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The Centers for Disease Control said in January that prescription opiate overdoses kill more Americans every year than cocaine and heroin overdoses combined.

Interestingly, the Yale study also found a bit of a gender skew that may indicate boys are naturally more inclined than girls to engage in risk-taking behaviors. “We found that among young boys, all previous substance use (alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana), but only previous marijuana use in young girls, was associated with an increased likelihood of subsequent abuse of prescription opioids during young adulthood,” researchers wrote.

The findings seem to confirm a study published last month in The Journal of School Health, which fleshed out several misconceptions about the so-called “gateway drug” theory and pinpointed alcohol, instead of marijuana, as the most commonly abused substance for first-time drug users.

Researchers used the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey to prove that marijuana use is not the primary indicator of whether an individual will abuse other more dangerous substances. In doing so, the School Health study proved that there is data which correlates to a so-called “gateway effect,” showing that the largest gateway is actually alcohol.

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“If you take [our findings] and apply them to a school health setting, we believe that you are going to get the best bang for your buck by focusing on alcohol,” study co-author Adam E. Barry told Raw Story. Public health officials have been making similar efforts with tobacco, saying they’re encouraged by the success of educational ad campaigns that show the true health effects experienced by many life-long smokers.

Yale researchers reached a similar conclusion, saying: “Prevention efforts targeting early substance abuse may help to curb the abuse of prescription opioids.”

A study published in 2010 in the medical journal Lancet ranked alcohol as the most harmful drug known to man, with more than double the potential harms of heroin use.
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Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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ICE and Homeland Security busted pushing right-wing propaganda and conspiracy theories

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Donald Trump in Oval Office

Multiple federal departments have been pushing far-right propaganda to federal employees.

"An arm of the Justice Department regularly sent summaries and links to articles from an online white nationalist publication over the last year, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found. In addition, similar newsletters sent to the Labor Department, ICE, HUD and the Department of Homeland Security, included links and content from hyperpartisan and conspiracy-oriented publishers," BuzzFeed News reported Friday.

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Trump claimed North Korea missile testing ‘would stop’ — but they just launched again: report

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The upcoming G7 summit meeting in Bairritz, France will have one more issue to grapple with after North Korea reportedly conducted missile tests.

"South Korea's military confirms that North Korea has launched a projectile this morning. From South Hamgyong Province. Japan's government reported it first," Voice of America Seoul bureau chief William Gallo Tweeted Friday.

"North Korea has now conducted nine rounds of launches since early May. But this one's notable because it comes after Trump says Kim promised "this testing would stop when the exercises end." They did end Tuesday. And yet..." he noted.

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Trump is ‘having a full-blown mental breakdown’ and needs to resign: Ex-Trump staffer

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Leading Republican elected officials should work with President Donald Trump's family to negotiate him resigning from office, a former top White House official suggested on MSNBC on Friday.

Former White House press secretary Anthony Scaramucci blasted his former boss during an interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC's "Meet the Press Daily."

"He has totally and completely lost it. There is nobody that can look at the situation, read the tweets, look at the press sprays, and say he hasn’t lost it," Scaramucci argued.

"What does that mean, lost it?" Todd asked. "Define that."

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