Is The Idea of the “Gateway Drug” a Myth?

Is The Idea of the "Gateway Drug" a Myth?

For many years, medical science was completely baffled by addiction. It didn’t make sense to medical professionals who went to school for years studying how the brain and body work because drug addicts and alcoholics couldn’t stay sober. It wasn’t until the last 50 years or so that there have been efforts put towards studying addiction, and it’s now been classified as a legitimate mental illness. Not only is it an illness, but it’s one that progresses. There is still a lack of acceptance and knowledge surrounding addiction, but it is progressive, and gateway drugs are real.

Why do People Start Drinking or Using Drugs?
Most of the world’s population can drink or use drugs without incident. They may have a night where they drink or use too much and have some consequences, but they’re able to dial back their drinking and using to avoid further consequences. Someone who becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol doesn’t have this same luxury. Despite the consequences of legal troubles, issues at work or problems with the family, they continue to drink or use. Those who become addicted often began abusing substances for a variety of different reasons.

Substance abuse typically happens when a person is trying to either get a feeling, get rid of a feeling, or find an escape. The two most common reasons of starting to abuse substances is to get rid of a feeling or find an escape. For example, people who begin to show signs of mental illness like anxiety, depression, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are trying to get rid of a feeling. They find that drugs or alcohol may numb what they’re feeling, so they feel like they can actually function. Eventually the body and mind become tolerant, so the person needs more.

What are Gateway Drugs?
When people think of a gateway drug, they often think of marijuana. In recent years, marijuana has been legalized in quite a few states. Some states as well as federal government officials are also trying to decrease sentencing for those caught with marijuana. While marijuana is a very commonly recognized gateway drug, the category also includes alcohol and prescription medications. Anyone who is looking to get a feeling, get rid of a feeling or find an escape may do so with marijuana, alcohol, or prescription narcotics. The problem is, these substances eventually lose their effect.

Within the last decade, the United States has seen an opioid epidemic like never before. In places like the Northeast United States, heroin has become a huge problem. It’s strange to think that so many people are using heroin when most people are taught that this is an extremely dangerous drug. The reality is that most of the people who have become addicted to heroin started off by using prescription opiates.

Prescription painkillers are prescribed by doctors, and some people may become addicted to the medications rather quickly. Since they can’t get the refills and need to feed their addiction, they turn to buying the medications by other means. Prescription pain medication can be quite expensive, and many addicts don’t have the money to keep up with their addiction. Rather than spending so much on one pill, a person can more quantity of a harder drug for less to last them longer. This is the all-too-common story as to how people begin doing harder illegal narcotics in the first place.

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dave_freyDave Frey —Director of Admissions

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