Americans have been told for decades that marijuana is the gateway drug for youth, but a new study finds that the most popular gateway drug is actually alcohol.
Researchers at Texas A&M and the University of Florida studied interviews that 12th graders did for the Monitoring the Future study, a yearly federal study on drug use by American teenagers, notes The Washington Post.
This new study entitled, "Prioritizing Alcohol Prevention: Establishing Alcohol as the Gateway Drug and Linking Age of First Drink With Illicit Drug Use," said that "the vast majority of respondents reported using alcohol prior to either tobacco or marijuana initiation."
The study, published in January in the Journal of School Health, added: "Alcohol was the most widely used substance among respondents, initiated earliest, and also the first substance most commonly used in the progression of substance use."
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The researchers also said that the earlier minors begin drinking alcohol, the more likely those same kids are to try another type of drug, and use illegal drugs more often than youngsters who delayed drinking booze.
The study concluded: "Findings underscore the importance of screening for substance use, even among youth enrolled in elementary/middle school. In addition, school prevention programs should begin in elementary school (third grade) and target alcohol use."
The study also seemed to support what the late comedian Bill Hicks said in 1991: "That's what I hate about the war on drugs. All day long we see those commercials: 'Here's your brain, here's your brain on drugs,' 'Just Say No,' 'Why do you think they call it dope?' … And then the next commercial is [singing] 'This Bud's for yooouuuu.' C'mon, everybody, let's be hypocritical b-------. It's okay to drink your drug. We meant those other drugs. Those untaxed drugs. Those are the ones that are bad for you."