The term gateway drug is often used, but not always understood. The premise is very simple. This is a type of drug a person may start out using that leads them into using another, oftentimes more powerful, drug. There are no illicit substances that are safe to use at any level. There are many drugs that are legal to use that can put your health at risk. Still, it is important to understand how drug addiction can progress. At Crestview Recovery, we can help you to manage any type of stressors you are facing.
How Does a Gateway Drug Work?
One of the most common gateway drug topics is marijuana. Some people believe that there risk and no reason not to use marijuana. Others believe it is a drug that may lead to more advanced drug use. Is that true?
There is some research that indicates that people start using marijuana and then progress into other illicit and licit drugs that are dangerous for them. It can lead to the development of addiction to other substances through this thought process. Keep in mind that some people can become addicted to marijuana, too, and they should seek a marijuana addiction rehab program.
Why Does Early Exposure Matter?
One of the key concerns about a gateway drug is that when a person starts using it, often at a younger age, they will continue to use progressively worse drugs over their lifetime.
Early exposure, for example, to cannabinoids, can lead to damage to the brain as well. For example, when a teenager starts using marijuana, he or she is more likely to have suffered damage to the dopamine reward center of the brain. During the teen years, this area of the brain is still developing, and that can lead to changes in its function. These can carry on for years to come.
Progression of Addiction
Another key point to keep in mind is that the body develops a tolerance to drugs over their use of them. Initially, marijuana may seem like a safe drug to use that does not cause harm. For some people, it never develops into an addiction. For many others – and we are not sure why it impacts some and not others – it can become a strong addiction.
Once marijuana is no longer reaching that same high for you because your body is used to it, that’s when you may turn to other drugs, like heroin or even cocaine, to get some of the benefits. Some people start using more than one drug at the same time, such as mixing alcohol with it. They are seeking a high and require a newer or more powerful drug to reach it. This is when the risk of addiction and overdose become very concerning.
What Can You Do if You Are Using Drugs?
There are no illicit drugs that are safe to use at any level. When you realize this, also note that if you have been using even a drug like marijuana, you could find yourself addicted to it, with no way for you to move past your use. That is when professional help, like the care we offer at Crestview Recovery, begins to become critical.
Let our team help you with the right level of treatment for your needs, including through programs such as:
- Men’s drug detox
- Women’s drug detox
- Intensive outpatient program
- Outpatient drug rehab programs
- Dual diagnosis treatment
Explore the Treatment Options Available to You Today at Crestview Recovery
Whether you are using a gateway drug or something else, when addiction occurs, you need professional help to get through it. That is where our team at Crestview Recovery can help you. We encourage you to reach out to us today to learn more about the treatment options we can offer to you. Our team is available to you when you call our recovery center at 866.262.0531.
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.