Check out this interesting paper linked by John Ellis, a Christian writer based around Washington DC. What's most interesting about it is not the actual measurement taken--is anyone really surprised that use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana among minors ("those not allowed to use any of these legally in any state") is linked? Of course not--you break the law to use one substance, and it will follow that you'll be more likely to break it in others.
No, what's really interesting is how the terms are defined. If you look closely at the paper, the definition of "gateway drug" appears to have changed. When I was a young pup, a "gateway drug" was the drug you took on the way to seriously dangerous drugs like heroin, cocaine, and the like. In this paper, it simply means that the use of marijuana is linked to the use of legal drugs like nicotine and alcohol.
While there are serious dangers to tobacco and alcohol, the reality is that in terms of immediate danger to the user, they don't rank up there with crystal meth, heroin, and cocaine.
In the same way, the definition of "addiction" seems to have changed as well. When I was young--many moons ago, as they say in the westerns--"addiction" meant that somehow, your body had developed a need for a particular drug. It wasn't sufficient that you had the habit, but was limited to actual physical addiction. Back then, we saw opioids like heroin as addictive, but not marijuana.
Now, it appears that any persistent bad habit is being redefined as an "addiction", which means, of course, that I am a blogging addict, I guess. More importantly, what these two redefinitions mean is that the drug enforcement community is increasingly not distinguishing between physical addiction and bad habits. In a country where we have somewhere around 50,000 deaths due to the abuse of truly addictive drugs (opioids), that is going to leave a mark.
Personally, I vote that we go back to the old definitions.
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