Three Facts About the Dangers of Gateway Drugs

Addiction doesn’t happen overnight; it develops over time, as people who abuse drugs become increasingly dependent on these substances. The path to addiction often starts with experimentation with so-called “soft” drugs and alcohol abuse, however.

A huge body of evidence supports the concept of some “soft” drugs acting as gateway drugs—substances perceived as harmless whose use acclimates individuals to the recreational use of drugs and which often lead to the use of and dependence on stronger drugs.

Counselors at addiction treatment centers hear the stories every day of how teenage experimentation with alcohol or pot started addicts down a road that often ends up with addicts losing their jobs, losing their families, and losing their health and freedom.

Gateway drugs are especially dangerous to teens, the age group that is most likely to try these substances and whose developing minds and bodies are most at risk from drug abuse.

Consider these statistics from the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia:

  • Children who smoke marijuana are 85 times more likely to use cocaine than children who never use marijuana.
  • Children who drink are much more likely to “graduate” to marijuana and cocaine. About 90 percent of children who use marijuana began using alcohol before trying pot. Children who use alcohol are 50 times more likely than non-drinkers to use cocaine.
  • Using gateway drugs normalizes drug use among teens and makes it more likely they will experiment with more dangerous substances. Many teens, having tried marijuana and suffering no immediate consequences, will up the ante by seeking out new substances with which to experiment that are much more dangerous and addictive.

For addicts who have walked the road from gateway drugs to harder drugs, there is a way back. Wellness Center NJ provides drug and alcohol detoxification and treatment services, providing a safe and supportive environment that will help substance abusers successfully detox and begin putting their lives back together after detox.

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