Every workplace in the free world almost now has a drug use/abuse policy in place and pee tests are as common as sliced bread. But the key to prevention is no detection but education long before the detection. And time and time again people stare in disbelief or cry like why my son, why my baby, why my friend when they go to harder drugs or end up in ICU or in the morgue due to hot needle or a high dosage. Think about learning about gateway drugs is like the stop sign in traffic, it is there for a reason, it is not just a sign!
A gateway drug is a habit-forming drug that, while not itself addictive, may lead to the use of other addictive drugs. “many believe that alcohol and cigarettes are gateway drugs that increase the risk of subsequent involvement with illegal drugs” The gateway drug theory (also called gateway theory, gateway hypothesis and gateway effect) states that use of less deleterious drugs precedes, and can lead to, future use of more dangerous hard drugs or crime It is often attributed to the earlier use of one of several licit substances, including tobacco or alcohol, as well as cannabis.
It is important to note that other factors besides biological mechanisms, such as a person’s social environment, are also critical in a person’s risk for drug use. An alternative to the gateway-drug hypothesis is that people who are more vulnerable to drug-taking are simply more likely to start with readily available substances like marijuana, tobacco, or alcohol, and their subsequent social interactions with other substance users increases their chances of trying other drugs.
In terms of marijuana’s specific correlation with other drug use, slightly less than half of Americans over 12 have tried marijuana, while less than 15 percent have taken cocaine and less than 2 percent used heroin, according to the latest National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health. Even smaller portions go on to become addicted to those drugs: Typically, only 10 to 20 percent of those who try alcohol and other drugs get hooked.
It is very rare that a person tries heroin or cocaine as the first experience with drugs. Instead, most people who do try drugs have already been using a “gateway drug” for some time leading up to that point. A gateway drug is one which serves to open the door to using harder drugs. The three most common gateway drugs are:
For many people smoking cigarettes is just another thing they do, similar to drinking coffee. All too often, however, it is a gateway into hard drug use. A person who starts smoking, after all, has taken up using a drug, and will get used to the experience of using a drug to feel better. It is only a small leap from smoking cigarettes to smoking pot or snorting coke to feel better or to have fun at a party. Smoking cigarettes is relatively socially acceptable, and has become even more so with the recent E-cigarette trend which involves vaporizing tobacco. Recent studies have actually demonstrated that E-cigarette use is associated with higher rates of smoking among young people. Whereas E-cigarettes are supposed to help people quit smoking, they actually appear to be making it more common. In the same way, young people who take up smoking are often more likely to end up using drugs.
Most people who start out using marijuana don’t plan to end up as hard drug users. After all, pot has a widespread public image as a “soft” drug, “just an herb” and a drug that is not addictive. People are supposed to be able to safely use marijuana without getting hooked or suffering an overdose, and the drug is even purported to have a long list of medicinal effects. Laying aside any of the debates about the uses of cannabis, it is a well established fact that people who use marijuana are more likely to also use harder drugs like cocaine, heroin and ecstasy. Some people do get away with using marijuana without ending up as drug addicts, but all too many others don’t. Taking the first puff on a joint is nothing more and nothing less than taking the first step on the road to becoming a hard drug addict.
Beer, wine, and liquor of various types are among the most widely consumed beverages in the United States, and they are also some of the most commonly used drugs. Just as with tobacco, alcohol is a socially acceptable gateway drug that serves as the starting point for many people who end up as drug addicts. People commonly start out drinking socially, end up making alcohol a part of their routine more and more throughout the week, and before long find themselves counting down the hours until they can get home and open a bottle, or looking to alcohol for the relief and refuge that they need. Even if the person doesn’t become an alcoholic, there is still the risk that he or she will transition from drinking into using drugs. This could happen while drunk, or it could be a natural extension from the habit of drinking to experience relief and enjoyment.
Is someone you care about on the road to drug addiction?
The fact that a friend or family member of yours may be using a gateway drug is not a guarantee that he or she will end up as a drug addict, but it does give you reason to be worried. Take the time to make sure that your loved one understands the risks, and offer your help in being available to talk about that person’s problems.
Very often, it is stressful and overwhelming life situations that push a person over the edge into drug use, and you have the opportunity to help prevent this outcome by being there to help and support your loved one.