Research Paper Research Study 253
The Road to Ruin? Sequences of Initiation to Drugs and Crime in Britain
01 Jan 2002
This study investigates the routes by which young people develop patterns of drug-using and offending behaviour. Survey data are used to assess the gateway effect - the tendency for soft drug use to lead to subsequent hard drug use and criminal activity. We argue that apparently strong gateway effects can be due to unobservable personal characteristics which produce a spurious association between different forms of problem behaviour. After correcting statistically for these confounding factors, gateway effects appear small. This casts doubt on the view that a more relaxed policy stance on soft drugs will lead to a hard drug epidemic.