For a long time, many addiction therapists and professionals have spoken about gateway drugs. Gateway drugs are substances that can lead to the use of more addictive and dangerous substances. Alcohol, marijuana and prescription pills are the most common substances defined as gateway drugs.
What Is a Gateway Drug?
What is a gateway drug, specifically? The definition of a gateway drug is simple. It’s a habit-forming substance that can lead a person to use other stronger, more addictive drugs. These drugs take away the guilt of using harder drugs because they’re considered ‘’softer drugs.’’
We now know that alcohol, marijuana and prescription pills are gateway drugs — but why? When someone uses alcohol, marijuana or prescription pills, they don’t feel as bad as they would if they used other harmful drugs. They are also more likely to dismiss any warnings that the drugs could be dangerous to their health. The same attitude can transfer to the use of harder drugs, too.
Although many people believe that gateway drugs could lead to addiction, these drugs don’t always make a person an addict. Several other factors come into play before addiction sets in. Dependence varies from one individual to another, and not everyone who uses alcohol, marijuana or prescription pills will eventually become addicted.
Risk Factors for Addiction When Using Gateway Drugs
Every individual has a certain degree of risk when it comes to substance addiction. Some people casually use drugs for a long time but face no risk for addiction. Others heavily use drugs for a short time without any risk for long-term use. Others use drugs for a short while and struggle with dependence and addiction right away.
So, what’s the overall risk of addiction from gateway drugs? Your risk of alcohol and drug addiction depends on a variety of factors. But consuming gateway drugs when you have several other risk factors for addiction puts you at risk for long-term dependence. These risk factors include:
- Genetic predisposition
- Environmental factors
- Personal history of drug use
- Family history of addiction
- Mental health conditions
- Social friends who use drugs frequently
- Age at which you first use alcohol and drugs
As you consume gateway drugs, you should consider your risk factors for addiction that may make you dependent on drugs. These factors also determine the amount of help you need in a rehab facility to get out of the chain of addiction.
Breaking out of Addiction
To break out of addiction and lead a life of sobriety once and for all, you need good quality treatment that includes a variety of programs, including:
- Medical detox
- Inpatient rehab
- Intensive outpatient program
- Daytime treatment
- Extended care
- Dual diagnosis treatment
At Gateway, we provide all the above programs and much more, customized according to your needs. If you or a loved one is battling substance use addiction, call our qualified therapists at 877-352-9566 or reach out to us on our contact page to get the help you need.