What is a “Gate-way drug”, and does it actually exist?

I’ve always heard of the concept of a drug, which if used leads one to abuse several other drugs, and that this kind of drug -“gateway drug” always initiates someone into usage of several other illegal drugs. Some people say it’s Marijuana, others say Tobacco. Can someone clarify about this, and is this concept really true? Thanks!

Regular User Asked on October 26, 2018 in Drugs.
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2 Answer(s)

OkidaCharles, it is a very good question and I have no knowledge about the subject. Do someone have knowledge on the matter ? I would love to know myself. Thank you.

Super User Answered on November 1, 2018.
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Dear OkidaCharles, your question is not very easy because the answer is not 100% definite. First, the concept of a “gate-way” drug assumes that there is a particular drug that is universally used by prospective addicts (those who are to become addicts), which dominates their reasoning and forces them into using other drugs, and thereby turning into addicts. The most common suspect is Marijuana.

Some research suggests that marijuana use is likely to precede use of other licit and illicit substances and the development of addiction to other substances. For instance, a study using longitudinal data from the National Epidemiological Study of Alcohol Use and Related Disorders found that adults who reported marijuana use during the first wave of the survey were more likely than adults who did not use marijuana to develop an alcohol use disorder within 3 years; people who used marijuana and already had an alcohol use disorder at the outset were at greater risk of their alcohol use disorder worsening. Marijuana use is also linked to other substance use disorders including nicotine addiction.

However, there’s no conclusive evidence that confirms Marijuana being the only or most common gate-way drug. There are cases in which addicts have reported to have been ushered into the world of addiction by constant reliance on pain relievers, alcohol, Tobacco,  and heroin – which are alternatives to the gate-way hypothesis.

It is important to note that other factors besides biological mechanisms, such as a person’s social environment, depression and daily stress issues, anger management issues among others are also critical in a person’s risk for drug use and may initiate someone into addiction with any thing available in their surrounding, rather than specific drugs such as Marijuana and the like.

To conclude, there are indeed drugs that are too addictive such as Marijuana, Heroin, synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl which if used (even one time), one will be hooked-on for ever, but the idea of a specific “Gate Way Drug” has a long way to go proving which drug this is. Thanks for the question OkidaCharles.

Moderator Answered on November 1, 2018.
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