A treatment organization calculated what order people first try drugs in and made a fun interactive toy out of it

“I used marijuana as a gateway drug … for more marijuana.” – T.J. Miller, #420regrets Tweet on Comedy Central’s @midnight.

“Marijuana a risky gateway drug, experts say.” – D.A.R.E. blog post.


The belief of weed as a demonical gateway drug is less and less fashionable every day. 1990’s TV special and health class staple Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue, a video in which Bugs Bunny, Garfield, Slimer, Alf, and the Smurfs stage an intervention on a teenager and tell him that his marijuana addiction will lead to a dark future of hard drugs, is laughably outdated now.

There’s no hard proof that marijuana use leads to other drugs. But there is, thanks to the nice people at Treatment 4 Addiction, a lot of data on what order people first try drugs in and a super-colorful and fun-to-play-with interactive chart to illustrate that data.

Marijuana is actually shown to generally come early in a drug-users timeline. According to the study, 20% of cannabis users never used another drug before they try it and 60% go on try another drug (including alcohol) after.

But the researchers are careful to mention that just because cocaine use, for example, might come after marijuana use, that doesn’t mean that one caused the other. Most people who try cocaine have also drank alcohol before too, but no one calls alcohol a “gateway” to cocaine. Social class, mental illness, and friend groups are probably more precise factors in predicting someone’s drug use than the drugs they’ve used in the past, as Miriam Boere pointed out in The Conversation.

Here, play around with this…