Everyone has heard the argument that marijuana is a gateway drug but most people dismiss this idea. The concept is very real, however, and creates a well-trodden path towards drug addiction. When it comes to treatment for drug addiction, we must ask what are gateway drugs? Moreover, what are the risks they pose?
What Are Gateway Drugs?
A gateway drug is any drug that can be habit-forming. This is not always the case although it does play a major part in serious drug addictions. The use of such a drug may lead to the use of much more serious substances. In these cases, the secondary drug is more addictive and can have disastrous consequences.
However, they do not always directly lead to secondary drugs. An example may be someone who binge drinks regularly. Such a person may be prone to poor decision-making and risky behavior. This may lead to the experimental use of prescription drugs like opioids which can lead to addiction.
When this happens, rehabilitation could become complicated. Polydrug use means one should consider a much more comprehensive treatment program. In our example, an in-patient program at a local facility would need to be completed, such as the oxycontin addiction rehab center in Tacoma WA.
What Gateway Drugs Should People Be Wary Of?
We know from the analysis of drug use that the three most common gateway drugs are:
- Prescription medication
These are not the only gateway drugs, but they are the most typically encountered. Other examples of gateway drugs are nicotine and inhalants.
These substances are not especially dangerous as long as they are not misused. Long term use or abuse can lead to risky behavior and secondary drug use. This risk becomes amplified in certain environments, which we will examine below.
In some instances, users of the three primary drugs will develop a tolerance of them. When this happens, they will almost inevitably search for something stronger. If an individual develops an addiction to gateway drugs they will need to be especially careful and seek treatment as early as possible.
Important Risk Factors
To answer the question of what are gateway drugs is not enough to understand their dangers. These substances are particularly troublesome when additional risk factors are at play. The biggest risk factor is the age at which an individual starts using drugs. The younger someone is when they start using alcohol or drugs, the bigger the risk of substance abuse.
Other commonly identified risk factors are an environment where drug use is accepted or even normalized. In this situation, the drug user typically doesn’t question their behavior. Mental disorders can also amplify the risk of gateway drugs as some people use substances to cope with the symptoms and never address the fundamental issue.
Don’t let the use of gateway drugs control your future. By seeking treatment early with a quality drug rehab you can free yourself from drug addiction. Contact us at 855.478.3650 to change the course of your life.