Historically, the phrase “gateway drug” has most often referred to the use of marijuana, as it was seen as a softer drug that heightened the probability of people trying more dangerous and addictive substances.
The concept of gateway drugs is somewhat controversial as it hosts a variety of oppositional factors. In the general sense, gateway drugs are thought to lead to increased risk of use and dependence on illicit drugs such as heroin or meth.
Soft Drugs Versus Hard Drugs
The differentiation between soft drugs and hard drugs is based on factors such as the degree of possible dependence as well as its harmful consequence on the body rather than in terms of legality.
Hard drugs include:
- Barbiturates (Nembutal, Amytal)
- Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium)
- Opioids (fentanyl, oxycontin)
- Amphetamine (methamphetamine, Adderall)
Soft drugs include:
- Psilocybin mushrooms
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports a study from the National Epidemiological Study of Alcohol Use and Related Disorders that shows that the use of marijuana in adults was shown to increase their likelihood of either developing an alcohol use disorder or worsening one already in existence.
One of the main arguments for the gateway-drug theory is that once a person experiences the rush of dopamine, it leaves them wanting more. Further, the use of a softer drug makes them more susceptible to harder drugs, a phenomenon known as cross-sensitization. Theoretically, after a person adjusts to the effects of a softer drug, they then move on to seek out harder hitting substances in order to recreate the initial rush.
What Are Gateway Drugs
The most common drugs associated as gateway drugs are alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. While many consider marijuana to be the key gateway drug, some studies have shown alcohol to be more likely to be the first substance adolescents try.
A Washington Post article reported that of the 12th graders surveyed who had ever used alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana:
- 54% tried alcohol first
- 32% tried tobacco first
- 14% tried marijuana first
The NIDA also points out the alternative to the gateway-drug hypothesis, which states that it discounts other sociological or biological factors that predispose a person to trying any substance. To say that marijuana caused a person to try a harder drug implies that there is something inherent to marijuana that causes a person to do something that they would not have done otherwise.
Finding a treatment center capable of dual diagnosis treatment can offer many advantages. These help ensure that you or a family member receives the best chance at a total recovery. Adequate treatment goes beyond just quitting a substance. If the root of the problem is left behind, the chance of relapse increases.
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First Step Center also offers:
Regardless of what gateway drug might lead a person to becoming addicted, it’s not too late to get help. Don’t wait any longer to get the help you need. First Step Center dedicates themselves to your total recovery and ready to help you learn the skills you need to take back your life and start living again. To start your recovery from addiction today, call us now at 8668326398.