A gateway drug is a substance that leads to the use of more potent ones. Marijuana has been long-debated as a gateway drug because people who use it often turn to harder drugs that release more intense highs. Alcohol and nicotine are also gateway drugs. Many adolescents start with alcohol and nicotine and eventually progress to more harmful drugs that can be deadly.
Some people wrongly think marijuana is a safe, non-addictive drug with little to no withdrawal symptoms. Actually, marijuana has the potential to be addictive and is positively linked to alcohol and cigarette use as well as illegal drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines. This does not mean that everyone who uses marijuana will transition to using these hardcore drugs. People addicted to marijuana are three times more likely to be addicted to heroin (DuPont, 2016). Young teens often try marijuana and drink, resulting in an addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Gateway drugs are usually the starting point to harder drugs. People usually drink to socialize or during special events and occasions. Many people who drink socially are at risk of becoming an alcoholic or transitioning to drug use. Adolescents are vulnerable to using drugs or drinking alcohol due to peer pressure, stress, or mental health issues. Teens often display impulsive, destructive behavior. When teens use gateway drugs such as marijuana, alcohol, or nicotine they are at higher risk for an addiction to drugs and alcohol.
An alternative to smoking cigarettes or inhaling cigarette smoke is called vaping, which is gaining popularity among teens and young adults. Vaping uses fewer chemicals, but still contains nicotine, the addictive substance found in cigarettes and other ways to use tobacco.
Many young people are using e-cigarettes as well. E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that look like a cigarette, pipe, etc. The e-cigarettes are filled with a liquid, containing nicotine, which heats up and vaporizes. The person using the device inhales the vapor.
Marijuana, alcohol, and nicotine are all addictive substances and considered gateway drugs, which can lead to hard-core drug use with substances that are more potent. People, especially teens who use these substances, should learn about the harmful effects of gateway drugs.
If you or a loved one struggles with addiction and mental health problems, get help today. Nexus Recovery Services specializes in addiction treatment and encompasses holistic therapy for the mind, body, and soul with a focus on staying active and connected to nature. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life without drugs or alcohol. We offer a free and confidential consultation. Call us to get started: 310-881-9151