Alcoholism/Drug AbuseCaregivingMarijuana (Cannabinoids)Substance Abuse

Study disputes the role of marijuana on subsequent drug abuse

The “gateway theory” says that each type of drug is associated with certain specific risk factors that can lead to subsequent drug abuse. For example, cigarettes or alcohol lead to marijuana, which leads to cocaine, etc.

A study by Dr. Ralph Tarter from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that environmental factors have a stronger influence on which type of substance is used. For example, if it’s easier for a teens to get marijuana than beer, then they will be more likely to smoke pot.

As described in the Medical News Today article, Dr. Tarter’s work supports what’s known as the “common liability model” — the start of using illegal drugs is determined by the user’s tendencies and environmental circumstances rather than previous drug use.

The findings have implications for current drug abuse prevention programs. It’s possible that interventions focusing on behavior modification might be more effective than current anti-drug initiatives.

For example, providing guidance to parents — particularly those in high-risk neighborhoods — on how to imporve their caregiving skills and foster bonding with their children could reduce a child’s likelihood to smoke marijuana. Also, early identification of children with antisocial tendencies could allow for interventions before drug use even begins.

Read the MNT article for more information on the study and the implications of the results.

12/9/06 08:59 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.