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Golub A, Johnson BD. 
“The misuse of the ‘Gateway Theory’ in US policy on drug abuse control: A secondary analysis of the muddled deduction”. 
International Journal of Drug Policy. 2002;13:5-19.
Much research (mostly from general population surveys) suggests that people typically use alcohol, tobacco and then marijuana, so called ‘gateway drugs’, prior to any potential use of ‘hard drugs’ like cocaine powder, crack and heroin. Other research (mostly with surveys of special populations) indicates that hard-drug use is associated with numerous social problems such as crime, routine violence, and lower productivity. A muddled interpretation of these separate findings has been widely misused in support of the US drug abuse prevention policies to suggest that gateway drugs cause hard-drug use and its associated problems. This paper superimposes secondary analyses of data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) and the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program. The findings indicate that (1) extremely few members of the general population become persistent daily hard-drug-using criminal offenders; and (2) an increasing percentage of daily hard-drug-using criminal offenders did not follow the gateway sequence of substance use progression. These results strongly suggest that the use of gateway drugs by youths is not the central cause of hard-drug use and its associated problems. Thus, fighting the use of gateway drugs by youths may not be a particularly appropriate approach to drug abuse prevention.
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