With marijuana now legal in 23 states, getting high isn't as outrageous as it used to be. Traditional D.A.R.E. programs have billed pot as the "gateway drug" to experimenting with harder drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy. But now that it's much more accepted, is that still the case?
According to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry, yes. Researchers asked more than 34,000 people if they had ever smoked pot and then followed up with them three years later. Those who had tried pot were two to nine times more likely to experiment with other drugs when they were questioned three years later.
Another study, just published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, found that adults who smoke weed were five times more likely to become an alcoholic. The study was performed by looking at the habits of 27,000 adults, who were surveyed twice in three years. Researchers found that the participants who did not have an alcohol addiction but reported using marijuana during the first survey were 5.4 times more likely to have an alcohol addiction just three years later. Adults who smoked weekly and were already an alcoholic at the first time of questioning found their drinking problems had worsened three years later.
These studies show that even as marijuana becomes legal in more states and viewed as more casually, its effects should still be taken seriously.
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