Marijuana is a Gateway Drug: Fact or Myth?

Published On: April 26, 20223.8 min read761 wordsCategories: Uncategorized

As Marijuana continues to be legalized in more and more states, it consistently ignites discussions all over the country around the topic of whether or not marijuana is a gateway drug. 

Doctors, addiction experts and researchers alike all continue to disagree on whether or not marijuana should be officially considered a gateway drug. The concept of gateway drugs is the idea that using or abusing a specific substance will cause you to seek out and use harder drugs.

Most people who use marijuana, whether medicinally, recreationally or both, do so without ever experiencing a psychological dependence and without ever escalating their use to harder drugs. 

On the other hand, most people who develop a substance abuse or addiction to harder drugs almost always admit to marijuana being the first drug they ever tried.

In this article we’ll break down if marijuana is a gateway drug or not. 

Can marijuana be a gateway drug?

There are some people who believe that using cannabis can cause someone to develop a preference for drugs, therefore — often inevitably — leading them to try harder drugs.

This is particularly an increasingly growing concern among parents of children and adolescents as marijuana not only becomes legalized both medicinally and recreationally in more states, but also becomes more widely accepted as well as accessible.

Updated research affirms that alcohol still continues to be the most popular substance of choice for adolescents, and that alcohol actually has the potential to act as a gateway “drug” to marijuana.

Using marijuana, recreationally or medicinally does not automatically guarantee someone is going to go on to try harder drugs, let alone develop an addiction to one of those harder drugs. 

Marijuana can, however, result in giving the user a highly euphoric feeling which, like all other substances that have this effect, means it does have the potential to trigger a desire to try other, more harmful substances.  

Despite this, the vast majority of people who go on to try a harder drug do so without ever developing an addiction or experiencing an overdose. 

So is marijuana a gateway drug or not?

There is no denying that marijuana can be used as a gateway drug, depending on your age, the state of your mental health and your personal background and experience with substance use.

Most research suggests, however, that regularly ingesting marijuana possesses as much of an ability to trigger additional, harder substance use as regularly ingesting alcohol or nicotine does.

Since there is no truly accurate way of measuring just how influential certain substances are in intriguing someone to go on to try more dangerous substances, there is no concrete way of identifying a gateway drug. 

There are even some new studies that suggest cannabis, when used appropriately, can function as an exit drug, meaning it can actually help people ease off of and quit other substances whether it be— alcohol, nicotine, opioids or a harder drug like meth.

Who is likely to use marijuana as a gateway drug?

Studies show that adolescents are more likely to channel marijuana as a gateway drug than adults. One of the primary reasons they have a greater chance of seeking out and using additional substances is because their brain is still developing; this leads them to be at a higher risk for developing an addiction.

Research has also shown that people who escalate their substance use from marijuana to a harder drug typically have a dual-diagnosis, meaning their marijuana use is a psychological addiction and that there’s some level of a mental illness or behavioral disorder involved.

In other words, advancing your substance of choice from marijuana to a legitimately potentially fatal substance (one like heroin) is an effect that comes from an already unstable situation.

Reach out for additional information

There are so many different — often conflicting — opinions about cannabis and an abundance of information, including countless myths. Some are empowering, some are victimizing; some boast of infinite health benefits, while others talk about hidden dangers. 

When it comes to using cannabis, the best thing you can do for yourself is take the time to objectively do your own research.

One of the most efficient ways you can do this is by reaching out to us here at Freedom Detox. We know how challenging it can be to sort through all of the different facts and myths out there, and we want you to be able to truly make the best, most informed decision for yourself.

Give us a call today at 800-475-2312 to speak with a qualified professional on our team.

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