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Early Drug Consumption and Subsequent Risk of Illicit Drug Use in Colombia

Scoppetta, Orlando, MSc*; Castaño, Guillermo A., MD, PhD

Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment: March 2019 - Volume 18 - Issue 1 - p 10–14
doi: 10.1097/ADT.0000000000000144
Original Articles

Objective: To study the relationship between the early consumption of drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana in adolescence and the escalation to the use of other illegal drugs as proposed in the gateway hypothesis.

Methods: An analysis of the database of the National Study of Psychoactive Substance Consumption in 2013 conducted, calculating adjusted odds ratios using logistic regressions and establishing 95% confidence intervals as indicators of significance of the estimates.

Results: There were consistent, significant associations between the consumption of various illegal substances with the early initiation of marijuana use: The odds ratio for any illicit substance in the last year consumption was 1.58; for cocaine use, 1.40; for basuco consumption, 2.15; for heroin, 4.82; and for synthetic drugs, 1.89.

Conclusions: The results are in line with the gateway hypothesis, which proposes that early marijuana use increases the probability of using other psychoactive substances, although the origin of the data from a cross-sectional study implies important limitations.

*Faculty of Psychology, Catholic University of Colombia, Bogotá, DC

CES University, Medellín, Colombia

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Orlando Scoppetta, MSc, Faculty of Psychology, Catholic University of Colombia, Av. Caracas No. 46-40, Piso 1, Bogotá, Colombia 111511 (e-mail:

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