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For example, kids who use marijuana because they are bored are more likely to also use coc aine, while kids using pot to achieve insight or understanding are more likely to try magic mushrooms, according to findings published recently in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
"We found that marijuana use within itself wasn't a risk factor for use of other drugs," said lead author Joseph Palamar, an assistant professor in the New York University Langone Medical Center's department of population health. "People do generally use marijuana before other drugs, but that doesn't mean marijuana is a cause of [using] those other drugs."
"Most teens who use marijuana don't progress to use of other drugs, and we believe this is evidenced in part by the fact that nearly two-thirds of these marijuana-using teens did not report use of any of the other illicit drugs we examined," he noted.
These results show that educators and counselors would do better to prevent drug use if they focus on the reasons that students give for trying illicit substances, Palamar concluded.
"We need to address the reasons why people use, the drives that lead people to use," he said. "The majority of adults in the U.S. have at least tried marijuana, and we know the majority has never gone on to use another drug, yet we tend to treat all drug use as pathological."
"Science has consistently shown that environmental factors, such as ready access to other illicit substances, and personal traits, such as a propensity toward risk-seeking behavior, are associated with the decision to move from marijuana to other illicit substances," Armentano said. "But marijuana's drug chemistry likely does not play a significant role, if any role, in this decision. "