Stages in adolescent involvement in drug use

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Science  28 Nov 1975:
Vol. 190, Issue 4217, pp. 912-914
DOI: 10.1126/science.1188374


Two longitudinal surveys based on random samples of high school students in New York State indicate four stages in the sequence of involvement with drugs: beer or wine, or both; cigarettes or hard liquor; marihuana; and other illicit drugs. The legal drugs are necessary intermediates between nonuse and marihuana. Whereas 27 percent of high school students who smoke and drink progress to marihuana within a 5- to 6-month follow-up period, only 2 percent of those who have not used any legal substance do so. Marihuana, in turn, is a crucial step on the way to other illicit drugs. While 26 percent of marihuana users progress to LSD, amphetamines, or heroin, only 1 percent of nondrug marihuana users and 4 percent of legal drug users do so. This sequence is found in each of the 4 years in high school and in the year after graduation. The reverse sequence holds for regression in drug use.

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