Gateway Drugs: How One Addiction Leads to Another [Infographic]

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Gateway Drugs: How One Addiction Leads to Another

There has long been a debate about the idea of gateway drugs. Essentially, a gateway drug is a drug that, once used, increases the likelihood of the user moving on to different or more dangerous substances. Perhaps the most commonly cited gateway drug is marijuana, but others like prescription painkillers and even alcohol should be added to the list.

Marijuana: Gateway to Further Drug Use

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs in the country, and many people mistakenly believe that its consumption is relatively harmless. Marijuana can be problematic for users of all ages, but the results are especially damaging to teens and young adults.

Although some people refuse to believe marijuana is a gateway drug, the facts speak for themselves. In one recent survey, people who used marijuana in the past were found to be 2.5 times more likely to use prescription drugs recreationally. Similar statistics can be found highlighting a connection between marijuana use and the use of harder drugs.

Nicotine: Gateway to Marijuana

Not all gateway drugs are illegal. In fact, one of the most startling gateway substances is nicotine. One study revealed that children who smoked were a staggering 19 times more likely to try cocaine.

Alcohol: Gateway to a Range of Drugs

If a drug is anything that creates a physiological impact when introduced to the body, then it’s hard to deny that alcohol should also be considered a gateway drug. Alcohol consumption, and particularly alcohol abuse, is inextricably linked to further drug use.

Particularly interesting to note is that the earlier alcohol consumption starts, the more likely drinkers are to use drugs. Children who try their first drinks in the sixth grade, for instance, will try an average of two illicit substances in the next year. Compare that to teens who don’t drink until 12th grade, and who will go on to use an average of 0.4 illicit substances in the next year.

ADHD Medications: Gateway to Methamphetamines

Gateway drugs aren’t always things that are taken illegally. ADHD and ADD medications such as Prescription Amphetamine are stimulants, and they are often prescribed to children and teens. However, these are controlled substances, and they are often incorrectly used as a way to seek out a high. Since the makeup of drugs like Ritalin and Prescription Amphetamine are similar to meth, they can serve as a gateway drug for some of the 1.2 million methamphetamine users in the United States.

Prescription Painkillers: Gateway to Heroin

Arguably the most worrying gateway drug is prescription painkillers that contain opiates. These are highly addictive, and even legitimate users who were prescribed these medications may go to extreme lengths to continue using opiates. Sadly, one in 15 people who used prescription painkillers non-medically will try heroin in the following decade.

Whether you’ve been victim to gateway drugs or you’re concerned about their potential to harm you through future addiction, excellent help is available. The Hills Treatment Centers offers a variety of treatment programs to help patients fight back and achieve lasting sobriety.

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