A new study aimed at determining if young marijuana users are more likely to abuse other illicit drugs has revealed interesting data regarding motivators for these behaviors. Research taken from Monitoring the Future (MTF), a nationwide survey given to young people regarding drug and alcohol use, has shown that boredom can lead to further drug use among teenagers. The study did not reveal if marijuana is a gateway drug, but researchers are hopeful that the information uncovered will lead to more effective preventative measures for teenagers.
“Programs and education efforts, for example, can benefit from knowing that marijuana users who use because they are bored are more likely to use certain other drugs. It may be feasible for prevention programs to address ways of coping with factors such as boredom in order to decrease risk,” explained Joseph J. Palamar, assistant professor of population health at New York University’s Langone Medical Center and participant in the research study.
Tailoring prevention programs to include ways to avoid boredom may help prevent many teenagers from engaging in drug abuse. After school programs, sports, civic groups, the arts and other constructive activities are examples of ways that young people can be involved in life and not get caught up in substance abuse as easily. The study itself was published in the American Journal of Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
While it is still difficult to determine if it is accurate to call marijuana a gateway drug, the study did show that out of the 2.8 million people who admitted to abusing drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, 70% started off smoking marijuana. Joseph J. Palamar included in his interview that addicts addicted to various drugs all seemed to have different reasons for abusing drugs and different paths that led them to that abuse. So, while it is unclear how big of a factor marijuana plays in long term drug use, it is clear that marijuana is the drug of choice for those starting out on a path that ultimately leads to harder, more dangerous drugs.
A new study shows that teenagers are actually more likely to experiment and abuse ADHD drugs than older college students. This goes against the common belief that college students are the most likely to resort to medications like Adderall or Ritalin in order to study for exams and juggle new responsibilities.
The results of the research are published in the July issue of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence and shows that children aged 16 to 19 are the most likely to abuse prescription stimulant drugs. The results from the study illustrate the need to educate children against drug abuse at younger ages.
“We need to have a realistic understanding of when young people are beginning to experiment with stimulants, so we can prevent them from misusing for the first time. To prevent someone from using for the first time is often more cost efficient and effective than trying to intervene once they have done it, whether a few times or for years,” explained Elizabeth Austic, the lead author of the study from the University of Michigan.
The benefit to studies like this one is that educators and parents are more aware of the age group that education and prevention methods need to start. Instead of waiting until children are in high school to talk about certain topics or substances, frankly addressing the issues with children at younger ages seems to be a better tactic. By the time children reach the age of 16, where temptation to abuse ADHD medication appears to begin its peak range, they may have already made up their minds about how they feel about drugs.
Another interesting aspect of the study was the revelation that 18 year-old women are twice as likely to abuse prescription stimulants as their male counterparts. Much of this is attributed to the appetite suppressant qualities of the drugs and the pressure to appear or feel thinner. All of this shows that our young people are under tremendous stress and are continuously exposed to dangerous substances as means of coping in life. We must work smarter earlier in their lives to help them be more resilient to those pressures, as well as change cultural norms that create the false perceptions about life.