Gateway Drugs: Study Finds Nicotine Leads to Using Other Drugs


Although marijuana can be stereotyped as one of most common gateway drugs, the latest research findings have proven otherwise.  Researchers found nicotine to be more of a gateway than any other substance after findings showed it has a greater likelihood to lead individuals to abuse other drugs upon having it in their system, according to NPR.

Gateway Drugs

Marijuana may be misrepresented as one of gateway drugs due to statistics, but nicotine is the true culprit that directs people to more potent drugs, like cocaine and heroin.  The Atlantic posted a graph that reads how one-fifth of marijuana smokers had not taken any other substance prior to smoking the drug, which proves it was the first drug they picked up.  In this same data, it was indicated that 60% moved forward with abusing other substances after smoking marijuana, reinforcing the idea that marijuana could act as one of leading gateway drugs.  However, alcohol too is a drug that cannot go ignored.  The same graph shows 88% of people had never touched any type of substance before drinking alcohol.  In spite of both these statistics for marijuana and alcohol making it seem like these substances could be the most leading for gateway drugs, nicotine was the most impacting drug that brought users to directed users to other substances.  Scientists discovered this by giving rodents nicotine and later cocaine.  The results were that the rodents had a more pleasurable experience after being exposed to the nicotine.  With researchers having observed this, it creates concern due to the fact that nicotine use has increased with vaporizers becoming a popular trend among the younger generation.

Prevention for Youth: “Just Say No” Fails

When it comes to protecting the younger generation, drug prevention and awareness initiatives should be used as tactics for approaching substance abuse issues early and before they manifest themselves.  However, original school drug education programs like DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) have failed because they follow the concept that individuals should simply “Just Say No.”  The problem with this concept is that when a person is already active in their addiction, they aren’t capable of “just saying no.”  According to Scientific American, the original DARE program was outlined by police officials – not addiction specialists.  The entire original outline of the DARE program was incorrectly centered on the criminalistics rather than on how substance use disorders like drug abuse and addiction are public health issues that need to be addressed as the illnesses they are. 

Is new approach for DARE different?

Officials became aware of how the DARE program was unsuccessful for individuals learning about the preventative measures.  Research analysts looked at what might be more effective at teaching younger generations how to stray away from picking up the first substance and found that holding off from longer presentations in programs to instead engage them could help keep their attention.  It was discovered that the younger generation may benefit more by enacting in a lesson of better judgement and decision making rather than hearing an entire course on “saying no” to drugs.  The new approach goes by “keepin’ it REAL.”  Sgt. Christine Rapp, who works for D.A.R.E. and has been an officer of Hancock County Sheriff’s Department for 16 years, explained, “When [students] learn the ways to say no to friends, they absolutely love getting up in front of the class and acting those out.”  The group needed to get up and be interactive by putting themselves in the scenario to see how they would interact if they were in the situation instead of listening about what to say.  It’s a completely different story when the students can place themselves situations instead of hearing someone talk for an hour, especially when being that young because they don’t necessarily want to be listening to someone go on for an extended period of time.  The “keepin’ it REAL” focuses on four ways to specifically say no, which are: Refuse, Explain, Avoid, and Leave.  The only problem with this type of program is that it still follows the similar “Just Say No” concept, but instead of it being verbalized to students, they are now more active in the lesson plan.  Programs like DARE haven’t worked in the past because the “Just Say No” concept is ineffective.  Switching around the program may help, but not if the concept stays the same!  However, former critics like Richard Clayton, who has past experience in prevention programs and studied at University of Kentucky, has stated, “They listened to the notion that comes from the literature that you need to be interactive – not didactic lecturing.  I think what they’ve done is pretty amazing.”

Only time will tell if this new approach for DARE is effective in helping take action toward preventative measures for addressing substance use related issues.  As far as gateway drugs are concerned, substances like marijuana and alcohol may seem like feasible candidates but studies have proven nicotine to be the most likely to lead individuals to abuse other drugs afterward.  If drug prevention programs like DARE can be configured so they are most effective at raising awareness about substance use issues, then individuals may not be as inclined to falling susceptible to the lures of gateway drugs.


Read 4245 times Last modified on Wednesday, 20 May 2015 19:11
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Related items

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.