A gateway drug is a habit-forming drug that may lead to other addictive substance abuse. This is a common theory, but not necessarily scientific fact. Today, some researchers and healthcare providers discount the existence of gateway substances. Whether these gateways to addiction are real is something you can decide for yourself.
What Is a Gateway Drug?
Many people believe that some substances lead users to other, more dangerous drugs. The drugs that people most frequently consider gateways are marijuana, nicotine, and alcohol. People who use these substances may find it easier and more enticing to try heroin, cocaine, and meth, according to the gateway theory.
Your dopamine levels increase when you use substances like alcohol, marijuana or nicotine. This boost brings pleasure and makes you want more of that pleasure, even through other substances. The promise of a stronger pleasure boost lures people into using stronger drugs.
For a long time, anti-drug programs claimed substances like marijuana lead to heroin addiction. The term “gateway” then became highly popular during the 1980s, when cocaine use was at an all-time high. Although anti-drug programs have been making these claims of gateways into drug abuse for many years, many people have stopped using the gateway theory when talking about drug abuse. This is due, in part, to new research into addiction and its causes.
How Gateway Substances Lead to Other Drug Abuse
The argument that gateway substances lead to other drug abuse still circulates in many schools and drug prevention programs. You may have heard about gateway substances in high school classes. But today, it’s more common for educators to explain how other risk factors can lead to addiction.
These other risk factors include:
- Past abuse
- Social life
- Environmental factors
There’s no concrete evidence that shows gateway substance abuse leads to other drugs. Still, many people believe these gateways exist and use the argument even today.
In today’s terms, a gateway to heroin abuse may exist through prescription painkillers. After all, many people turn to heroin when they’re no longer able to obtain their more expensive prescription drug. They still want their high, so they turn to heroin even though they know it’s a dead-end path.
Inhalants may be another gateway substance today. Studies show that people who sniff glue or other intoxicants move on to other drugs like cocaine and heroin. Many people also believe that energy drinks are a gateway to substance abuse since these drinks produce physical and psychological changes that many people enjoy and seek through other substances.
Closing All Gateways to Your Drug Use
Regardless of whether a gateway drug can lead to addiction or not, the reality is that recovery from drugs or alcohol can be long-term. This means you can shut the gateways of your drug abuse forever if you put effort into your sobriety. Through the right type of addiction treatment programs, you can live long and well without ever using another drug again.
The keys to your lasting recovery exist in the quality of your treatment. For complete recovery from alcohol or drugs, you need a variety of therapies. These therapies may include individual counseling, group therapy, and family counseling. You’ll also benefit from experiential therapy and holistic methods.
In Portland, Oregon, all of these therapies and others are part of the treatment programs at Crestview Recovery. Available programs include intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization and outpatient programs.
Through the right treatment, you can shut those gateways to addiction. If you’re ready to end your active addiction to drugs or alcohol, call Crestview Recovery at 866-262-5031.