Gateway theory of drug use

Statistics of Australian drug use

This comes from the Australian Psychological Society

“The use of licit substances is the most prevalent type of substance use, and an accepted part of Australian and most other western societies. The vast majority of Australians use caffeine, through the consumption of tea, coffee, cola drinks and chocolate. The regular use of alcohol and tobacco by adults is acceptable to three out of four and two out of five Australians, respectively. Alcohol is consumed on a weekly basis by 41% of people aged 14 years and over and daily by 9%, and 17% use tobacco on a daily basis.

Some types of illicit substance use are also quite common. More than a third (38%) of the population has at some stage in their lifetime used a substance currently listed as illicit. Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug, having been ‘ever used’ by more than 34% of the Australian population over their lifetime, and used within the last 12 months by almost 11%.

The use of pain-killers/analgesics for non-medical purposes is reported by 6% of Australians. Almost 10% of people have ‘ever used’ amphetamines, and 8% have ‘ever used’ ecstasy. Each of these groups of substances has been used in the past 12 months by 3% of Australians.

The use of substances such as heroin and cocaine is rare; heroin has been ‘ever used’ by 1.4% of the population and 0.2% have used heroin in the past 12 months. In 2004, fewer than one in 20 persons reported ever having used cocaine, and only one in 100 had used this substance in the previous 12 months.”(end quote)

Interesting numbers and it causes a problem for the gateway theory of drug use. This theory says that marijuana (in particular) is a gateway drug to harder drugs. If you start smoking marijuana then that leads to a life of heroin addiction is the gateway theory of drug use.

As we can see from these statistics

34% have ever used marijuana

1.4% have ever used heroin

This means there is a large number of people who have used marijuana and it has not been a gateway to heroin use.

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