Long-Term Drug Abuse Starts With Alcohol, UF Study Says

Alcohol — not marijuana — is the gateway drug that leads adolescents down the path toward more serious substances, a new University of Florida study shows.

The findings may not settle a decades-old debate over how drug abuse begins, but it could help educators and policymakers build more effective drug-prevention programs, said Adam Barry, an assistant professor and researcher in the College of Health and Human Performance.

“By recognizing the important predictive role of alcohol and delaying initiation of alcohol use, school officials and public health leaders can positively impact the progression of substance use,” he said.

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