Anti-drug advocates who have admonished for years that marijuana is a “gateway drug” may be on to something, says a study by Yale University School of Medicine researchers, reports Connecticut Post. The state director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws dismissed the findings as “just another propaganda study.” The Yale study, which appears online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, showed that alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana were associated with an increased likelihood of prescription drug abuse in men 18 to 25. In women of that age, only marijuana use was linked with a higher likelihood of prescription drug abuse.
For years, researchers have looked at a connection between marijuana and hard drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, said Lynn Fiellin, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of medicine at Yale. “I don’t think the general population has a good idea of how serious the problem is with prescription opioids,” Fiellin said. “When they’re abused or misused, these are hard drugs.” Researchers focused on a sample of 55,215 18- to 25-year-olds. Of those, 6,496, about 12 percent, reported that they were abusing prescription opioids. Of the group abusing these drugs, about 57 percent had used alcohol, 56 percent had smoked cigarettes and 34 percent had used marijuana.