“Alcohol causes far more personal and social damage than any other drug. Illegal drugs comprise less than 20 percent of substance-use disorders in the U.S.” ~ William Martin, Director of the Baker Institute’s Drug Policy Program
While the habitually uninformed may point to marijuana/cannabis consumption as the gateway to addiction – an intriguing study spanning 40 years reveals that alcohol is the real felon when it comes to exposing and nurturing our addictive tendencies.
After scrutinizing both substances based on historical data gathered over four decades, astute researchers at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, in conjunction with Brian C. Bennett, disclosed their intoxicating discoveries on the dizzying topic of substance abuse.
Socially acceptable, alcohol is available on just about every street corner in America. Yet, for some convoluted reason, marijuana has been targeted as Public Enemy #1 in the war against addiction and labeled as a dangerous Gateway substance. Shining a factual floodlight on the topic, the charts produced by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy vividly demonstrate “the natural course of the use of psychoactive drugs.”
According to the Bennett charts, individuals who experiment with psychoactive substances do so for a relatively short period of time — Stopping shortly after their initial experimentation with the substance.
Explaining away the youthful experimentation with illicit drug use, researchers noted that adolescent experimentation peaks from “18 to 20.”
The numbers don’t lie: In examining the peak ages of experimental substance use from 18 to 20, the charts provided by the Baker Institute for Public Policy clearly demonstrate that alcohol is the real Gateway to an addictive lifestyle.
Demonstrating its addictive nature, in 2014, just over 80% of U.S. adults had shown their lifetime commitment to drinking themselves “happy” (or not). Conversely, over the same time period, only 52% of the population claimed marijuana as their lifetime substance of choice.
Putting addictive personalities and the genetic predisposition to enjoy certain substances aside, it’s completely plausible that young adults who were allowed to consume alcohol at an early age are inherently more susceptible to experiment with stronger substances. Whether it’s genetics or an alcohol-fueled home life, the likely thread running through our addiction prone society is the crushing anxiety and depression caused by life in the American Fast Lane, in addition to the lack of access to adequate mental health care.
(Photo Credit Jason Tester / Flickr)