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Does Marijuana Lead to the Use of Other Drugs?

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Updated February 13, 2014

Question: Does Marijuana Lead to the Use of Other Drugs?
Answer: It could. Long-term studies of high school students and their patterns of drug use show that very few young people use other illegal drugs without first trying marijuana.

For example, the risk of using cocaine is 104 times greater for those who have tried marijuana than for those who have never tried it. Using marijuana puts children and teens in contact with people who are users and sellers of other drugs. So there is more of a risk that a marijuana user will be exposed to and urged to try more drugs.

To better determine this risk, scientists are examining the possibility that long-term marijuana use may create changes in the brain that make a person more at risk of becoming addicted to other drugs, such as alcohol or cocaine. While not all young people who use marijuana go on to use other drugs, further research is needed to predict who will be at greatest risk.

Back to: Marijuana FAQ for Kids

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