There’s been a long-running debate on whether cannabis can lead to the abuse of harder drugs like cocaine and heroin.But what is a gateway drug? Gateway drugs are the easily accessible substances which when consumed by youngsters give way for harder and more dangerous drugs later in life.
Marijuana Has Proven To Be a Gateway Drug
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, just as all the other people with substance abuse problems, heroin users started their abuse as teens but not before experimenting with alcohol and marijuana.
That should provide enough evidence that the early initiation into cannabis and alcohol plays a major role in priming the brain for enhanced responses to other day drugs. With that comes heightened brain activity, which increases the possibility of the users to seek more potent substances.
It, therefore, makes sense to take measures that can help reduce the use of alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco among the teens to avert the epidemic of heroin and opioid and minimize addiction problems.
The Gateway Drug Theory
When consumed, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other gateway drugs increase the dopamine levels, which, in turn, leads to increased pleasure.
The high dopamine level due to the drugs during the adolescence leads to low level of dopamine released in the adulthood. In short, the ‘high’ achieved is substantially decreased. As such, in the quest for more dopamine releases, the users tend to seek harder drugs.
Marijuana Use Has Correlation to Use of Other Drugs
The use of marijuana has shown a close correlation with the use of alcohol and substances like tobacco, meth, heroin, and cocaine.
However, that doesn’t mean that every marijuana user will transition to heroin and other illegal hard drugs. What it means is that compared to the people who don’t use marijuana, those who do will consume more and not less of the other legal and illegal substances.
According to the Center for Disease Control, people who use marijuana are three times more likely to get addicted to heroin. That further supports the gateway drug theory.
Controversy Surrounding the Gateway Drugs
Critics who don’t subscribe to the gateway drugs theory regarding marijuana argue that smoking pot will not lead to the use of harder substances. Besides, they go on to argue that the use of marijuana may prevent the adoption of other drugs. However, there exists no evidence to support the claims.
By now, you know ‘what is a gateway drug.’ Legalizing and making marijuana easily accessible for the teens, will only increase the possibility of experimenting with other harder drugs later in life. Besides, consuming one or more of the gateway drugs will only increase the likelihood that a particular individual will be open to trying other drugs.