Are Gateway Drugs Real?

drug treatment in greensboro NCHave you ever given much thought to why you or someone you know is struggling so hard with substance abuse? Did an addiction to opioid drugs start after abusing prescription painkillers or smoking marijuana? If your son or daughter needs drug treatment in Greensboro NC, Legacy can help. Call today!

Gateway drugs are often thought of as those that lead individuals to harder drugs that are more dangerous and stronger. For example, marijuana is often considered a gateway drug. Many people believe that it leads to an addiction to meth or cocaine. Opioid prescription drugs are often prescribed for pain. However, because they are highly addictive and very strong, users often turn to heroin when their doctors won't give them more medication to help combat their chronic pain.

Gateway drugs are ones that boost dopamine levels within your brain. Dopamine increases pleasure. It is believed that gateway drugs open the door for your brain to be more susceptible to other substances. It causes a process that is called cross-sensitization. This can make substance abuse worse by causing stronger cravings and increased brain activity.

The question of whether or not gateway drugs are real is one that has been asked time and time again. There's no real answer. However, this term has been used since the 1980s to describe substances that precede more hardcore drug use and addiction. Studies have been done since then to determine the cause and effect. In 1985 research was done that sparked even more studies. The 1985 study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence found that alcohol was a steppingstone for heavy drug use.

For decades after that research was published adults have warned kids of all ages about the dangers of gateway drugs. Anti-drug programs were established and educators fought hard to bring awareness to gateway drugs.

The gateway drug idea is very controversial. Many people believe that it's not possible for certain substances to cause use of other more dangerous drugs. These people also believe that genetics, environment, history of abuse in general, vision problems, and genetics can all be the risk factors that come with addiction and substance abuse. While this can be true, there's also a lot of research and evidence to support the idea that gateway drugs are real.

The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia (CASA) did research that shows teens who use substances that are considered gateway drugs are close to 300 times more likely to develop an addiction to cocaine versus those that do not. For the best drug treatment in Greensboro NC, call Legacy Freedom.

According to the NIDA:

  • Children who use marijuana are 85 times more likely to use cocaine than non-marijuana users.
  • Children who drink are 50 times more likely to use cocaine than nondrinkers.
  • Adults who used marijuana as children are 17 times more likely to be regular cocaine users.
  • Adults who drank as children are six times more likely to be regular cocaine users.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reported the following for teens that have used marijuana heavily:

  • 30 times more likely to use crack cocaine.
  • 20 times more likely to use ecstasy.
  • 15 times more likely to abuse prescription painkillers.
  • 14 times more likely to abuse over-the-counter medications.

Below, you will find most common gateway drugs and the illicit substances that are linked to their use.

Alcohol – Using alcohol at a young age can depress and impair brain functions. It also lessens motor skills. Research done in 2014 showed that almost 90% of adults reported they've drunk alcohol at some point over the years. The same studies also show that alcohol can be a gateway drug to heroin, opioids, marijuana and cocaine.

Marijuana – Often considered natural and not at all a danger or risk, this substance is often used to get a high feeling. People also state that marijuana increases their attention span and motivates them to do more. However, it can also cause memory loss issues, inability to learn, inattentiveness and lack of motivation. More than 20 million people reported using marijuana in 2014 alone. It's the most used illicit drug in the United States. However, marijuana can lead to substance abuse issues with cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and a marijuana addiction. For help with all addictions, Legacy can help. Call now.

Prescription Drugs – As we mentioned above, prescription drug abuse can often lead to cocaine and heroin abuse. Opioid users are becoming more and more common in the United States. In fact, just last week, the President of the United States held a press conference on the opioid crisis. It is important to understand that prescription medication is not always dangerous. If it is used properly, and within the guidelines set forth by doctors, it can be helpful. However, those that abuse prescription medication can find themselves looking for stronger, more dangerous drugs.

We hope this information helps you better understand gateway drugs and whether or not you believe they are real. Often, all it takes is one experience trying drugs. Then, they are more open to trying something stronger. After a while, substance abuse turns into addiction. If you, or someone you love, are dealing with this exact situation, know that help is available.

Affordable Drug Treatment in Greensboro NC

If you, or your loved one, are suffering from a substance abuse problem it's time to get professional treatment this fall. While it’s easy to believe they are alone in this struggle, that is the farthest thing from the truth. There are numerous people and families dealing with addiction, all over the world, and they need rehab as well. Regardless of how bad your drug or alcohol use has become, help is always available with the many substance abuse treatment centers in the Triad. However, all of them are not the same. That's why you should contact Legacy Freedom if your loved one needs alternative, personalized or medication-assisted drug treatment in Greensboro NC. There are a lot of choices for alternative and medication-assisted treatment. Our therapy programs help you learn to live a happy, healthy life without chemical dependence.


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