A Comeback for the Gateway Drug Theory?

A similar study through 2011 — conducted by some of the same researchers, most notably Denise Kandel, who helped formulate the gateway theory in 1975 — produced comparable findings using nicotine in addition to mice.

Most critical to the viability of gateway theory, both studies found there was no enabling effect when the order of the drugs was reversed. Taking cocaine did not make the rodents more susceptible to the effects of alcohol or nicotine, supporting the idea which some drugs are better positioned than others to act as place-setters.

“at This particular point which we’ve done the animal experiment, we see which using one drug improvements your brain in such a way which using another drug becomes more rewarding,” said Dr. Kandel, a professor of sociology at Columbia University. “in addition to there can be an order. Cocaine doesn’t create This particular effect.”

Critics are quick to point out the shortcomings in these studies, including the assumption which rodents in addition to humans respond similarly to narcotics. “I think the item sounds like a relatively lame attempt to resuscitate a theory which’s been largely debunked,” said Ethan Nadelmann, the founder in addition to former executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The simple fact which they’re involving studies on rats” to make claims about people can be “a real stretch,” he said.

Dr. Nadelmann also noted which many previous studies showing how one drug enhances the effect of another have contradicted the gateway theory. A 2008 paper found which by taking marijuana, chronic-pain sufferers could reduce their doses of pain-relieving opioids, for example. in addition to people who combine marijuana with prescription opioids are not more likely to abuse alcohol or some other drugs, research has shown.

Another knock on the gateway theory: In Japan, where marijuana use can be far lower than in most Western countries, only 83 percent of illicit drug users commenced out smoking pot, according to a 2010 study. in addition to there can be at This particular point mounting evidence which factors such as poverty in addition to poor social environment are a greater predictor of hard drug use than early exposure to soft drugs.

In 1999, reporting on the dangers of medical marijuana for Congress, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences declared “there can be no conclusive evidence which the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of some other illicit drugs.” The report did not address nicotine or alcohol.

What the medical community knows about addiction has evolved significantly since the 1930s, when a team of researchers introduced an early type of the gateway concept. Known as Stepping Stone Theory, the item was based on the researchers’ observation which 100 percent of the heroin addicts they interviewed had first used marijuana. Their conclusion: Marijuana leads inexorably to heroin use.

Later versions of the theory focused less on the idea which using one drug necessarily causes use of the some other in addition to more on establishing the order in which addicts typically move through substances. “You’re never actually able to establish a clear causal connection because there are so many factors you can’t control for,” said Dr. Kandel, whose first paper on the topic can be considered seminal. “All you can say can be there can be an association between the use of these drugs, in addition to there tends to be a sequence.”

nevertheless those sorts of distinctions went up in smoke once Robert L. Dupont, a former White House drug czar in addition to director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, coined the term gateway drug in his 1984 book, “Getting Tough on Gateway Drugs: A Guide for the Family.” With the war on drugs nearing its height, legislators in addition to activist groups like D.A.R.E. seized on the idea which preventing kids through getting involved with booze or pot could save them through a lifetime of drug abuse.

“The program was much more didactic back then,” said Frank X. Pegueros, D.A.R.E.’s president in addition to chief executive, when asked whether his group’s position on gateway drugs had changed. Since 2008, the program has shifted focus away through just saying no in addition to toward the teaching of not bad decision-creating skills, he said.

Today, health advocates tend to rally around a concept known as common liability theory, which states which certain people, by virtue of biology, environment or both, are simply more likely than others to become addicted to drugs. Part of the appeal of the theory can be the item explains why so many people can use so-called gateway drugs in addition to never become addicted.

“Gateway theory only deals with the initiation of the use of various substances, in addition to This particular order means exactly nothing,” said Michael M. Vanyukov, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Pittsburgh in addition to co-author of a 2012 paper comparing gateway in addition to common liability theories. “What can be important can be why people start using drugs at all, in addition to common liability accounts for which.”

Still, Dr. Kandel does not believe the rise of the common liability type necessarily discredits gateway theory. “I feel which the two perspectives are actually complementary,” she said.

“I think people have certain tendencies or characteristics which increase the probability which they’re going to do all kinds of deviant behavior,” she said. “nevertheless I think which the order in which you’re going to do drugs will have an impact on whether you’re going to do some other drugs.”

Though Dr. Kandel’s most recent research dealt only with nicotine in addition to alcohol, she said she can be currently wrapping up a similar study on marijuana. which study can be likely to be published within the first half of 2018.

within the meantime, parents looking to protect their kids through addiction should focus less on which substances their children might be using in addition to more on the overall context, said Dr. Nadelmann. “What else do they have going on? Are there underlying psychological in addition to mental issues not being treated? can be the person using This particular substance as a form of self-medication?” he said.

“Those are the questions,” he said, “nevertheless I don’t think there’s any hard in addition to fast rule.”

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