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Does Using Marijuana Lead to Other Drugs?

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Updated February 13, 2014

Question: Does Using Marijuana Lead to Other Drugs?
Answer: Long-term studies of high school students and their patterns of drug use show that very few young people use other drugs without first trying marijuana, alcohol, or tobacco. Though few young people use cocaine, for example, the risk of doing so is much greater for youth who have tried marijuana than for those who have never tried it.

While research has not fully explained this association, growing evidence suggests a combination of biological, social, and psychological factors are involved.

Researchers 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 (16). While many young people who use marijuana do not go on to use other drugs, further research is needed to determine who will be at greatest risk.

Back to: Marijuana FAQ for Parents

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