Facts & Myths You Should Know About Gateway Drugs

Almost every individual battling drug addiction has started by using gateway drugs. While they are considered not to be as dangerous as heroin and cocaine, for example, these drugs open the gate to those drugs that are more detrimental to one’s health. At Little Creek Recovery, we know that it doesn’t matter what the legal status of a substance is – they can all lead a person into rehab if not careful. Thus, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to provide you with some facts regarding these drugs, and we’ll be more than happy to bust a few myths about them along the way.

What is a gateway drug?

We’ve already mentioned that these drugs are considered to be less dangerous than some other drugs on the market. They have this reputation due to the fact that they are usually legal. And when something is legal, people don’t think that it can do them a lot of harm. The truth is that gateway drugs on their own will not have a beneficial effect on your health. But they can do a person even more harm once they result in experimentation with harder drugs. If you are not sure whether you are currently using a gateway drug, know that you are if you are using any of the following things:

  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription drugs
A woman lying in bed with a cigarette.
Nicotine is found in cigarettes, so you might want to revisit your smoking habit.

It’s a matter of fact that all of these are more or less easy to get and obtain. That’s why if you are using a prescription drug, you should be very careful about how you handle it. Keeping it in a secure place will be a must if you have someone close to you who has just come out of benzo rehab Pennsylvania center. Of course, you need to be just as responsible toward yourself, which means you must make sure that you use these drugs as per your doctor’s instructions.

Myths about gateway drugs

Let’s start off by debunking some of the most common myths regarding these substances. We find this to be extremely important, as it can prevent you from believing something that could ultimately hurt you significantly. Being well-informed and knowledgeable about addiction and substance abuse can prevent you from spending any time in an inpatient drug rehab in Pennsylvania, so it would be wise to read carefully.

1. Try a gateway drug once and you will end up addicted to harder drugs

Hear us out – while there is a little bit of truth to this as it’s what happens with some people, this is definitely not always the case. If you try a gateway drug once, you don’t have to worry about ending up in rehab. After all, quite a lot of people use nicotine, for example, on a daily basis, and you don’t see them becoming addicted. Besides, there’s barely a person out there that has never had at least one drink of alcohol, so we can’t say that this myth is sustainable.

Friends making a toast with alcoholic drinks - one of the gateway drugs.
There’s no telling how having a few sips of alcohol here and there will affect you long-term.

However, it is common knowledge that frequent experimentation with these drugs will lead to addiction in many cases. What started out as a few casual drinks on your day off could soon turn into a stay in an alcohol rehab Pennsylvania facility. Or it could push you to try out drugs such as heroin and cocaine, which would make a bad situation even worse. The moral of the story? It’s best to play it safe and stay far away from gateway drugs.

2. Every gateway drug is harmless

This is quite possibly the most harmful myth of them all. Believing that a drug is harmless will probably encourage you to use it as often as you want it. However, you need to keep in mind that every person will start to build up a tolerance to drugs at some point in time. Let’s say that you start drinking after turning 21. You’ll probably notice that, in the beginning, you only needed one to two drinks to feel the effects of alcohol. But as soon as you start drinking on a regular basis, you will need to consume more alcohol in order to feel tipsy. And it might not be long before you have to commit to Inpatient or Outpatient detox rehab PA.

The truth is quite apparent – there’s no drug out there that is harmless. Studies show that even small amounts of nicotine are enough to cause damage to your lungs and respiratory organs. So even if a drug doesn’t evolve into addiction, it’s still doing a lot of damage to your health and well-being.

3. A person using gateway drugs lacks self-control

A lot of people believe that drug use is indicative of someone with poor self-control. Rest assured that this is not the case. A person can have a lot of self-control and still fall into the shackles of addiction. A lot of studies have been conducted on the risk factors of addiction and why it usually forms. Things such as childhood trauma, current trauma, stress, and mental illnesses can all affect a person’s decision and desire to experiment with drugs. It’s true that addiction begins with a conscious choice to take a substance but, at the end of the day, addiction is merely a disease.

A bunch of pills.
Some gateway drugs, like prescription drugs, will be necessary to aid in certain situations.

Thus, you should never look at drug problems as someone’s lack of willpower or self-control. It’s because of all this stigma surrounding addiction that people oftentimes hesitate to get the help that they need. Besides, a significant portion of the world’s population has used gateway drugs at some point. It’s ludicrous to think that the entire world has a problem with self-control, isn’t it?

4. There isn’t a discernible correlation between the use of gateway drugs and harder drugs

If you are an individual who believes that there isn’t a connection between the use of a gateway drug and those that are more harmful, we urge you to reconsider your beliefs. The truth is a lot more different than that, as these drugs have been connected to a lot higher chance of using drugs such as heroin or cocaine down the road. Once again, there’s no telling which end of the spectrum you will find yourself in. You could be one of those people who use these substances from time to time without ever developing an addiction.

On the other hand, you could be predisposed to addiction, ultimately ending up in a Partial Hospitalization Program Rehab Pennsylvania. How do you know whether you have any predispositions? Well, if you grew up in a household where one parent (or both of them) was an addict, then you might have a higher chance of becoming one yourself. Keep in mind that it’s this same circumstance that could keep you away from ever experimenting with any drugs. Kids who grow up in a household such as this one will either develop an aversion to drugs or think that it’s the right way to live their life.

Facts about gateway drugs

Now that we have some very disturbing and potentially dangerous myths out of the way, it’s time to focus on science and research. A lot of studies have been conducted on the topic of drug use, as it has become a rather widespread occurrence in our society. Therefore, we have a lot of available data from which to draw our conclusions. Besides, our rich experience in addiction recovery is also there to help us elaborate on the dangers of gateway drugs.

A woman reading a book about gateway drugs.
Our professionals have a lot of experience and knowledge regarding the field of addiction recovery.

1. A healthy environment isn’t more important than the use of these drugs

Coming from a healthy household is an extremely important thing. It certainly provides people with better chances of never developing a heroin or cocaine addiction in PA, but it’s not nearly enough. Many research studies have been carried out on how people who are coming from a healthy environment react to gateway drugs. The findings were straightforward – even if you are coming from the right background, have no family history of addiction, and have no mental problems, you can still become addicted to a gateway drug. In fact, that’s exactly what many people end up doing.

These drugs are very addictive, and it’s exactly because of all the myths attached to them that people don’t find them dangerous. The reality is that it doesn’t take a lot for a person to develop an addiction to these drugs, especially if they are coming from a background that contributes to them having a few risk factors. Don’t rely on your background and predispositions – rely only on yourself.

2. Alcohol is considered to be the most dangerous gateway drug

This easily sounds like something that could be placed in the myth portion of this article. However, when you think about it, you won’t have a problem seeing why alcohol is the most dangerous and harmful gateway drug. Let’s start with the most obvious reason why – alcohol is legal in every country. Sure, different countries have different rules concerning when you can start drinking, but they all let you consume as much alcohol as you want once you reach that legal limit. Therefore, people find nothing wrong with drinking alcohol on a regular basis. Besides, this substance is widely available. All you have to do is walk into a nearby restaurant or bar in order to get a drink or two.

Secondly, alcohol is seen as a socially acceptable drug. It’s oftentimes used in social situations and settings, as people find it to be an integral part of every celebratory event. Thus, there are many positive associations when talking about alcohol, which is enough to cloud a person’s judgment. The truth is that alcoholism can creep up on you. It begins with you stopping by for a drink or two after work, but it can end up with you being in need of inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers in PA. Keep in mind that many people live a long time as functional alcoholics, as it might take years before the problem grows out of proportion.

A cocktail on the table.
Alcohol is easily available. All you have to do is walk into your favorite bar.

On the other hand, marijuana isn’t legal in most US countries. Likewise, prescription drugs are legally available only when prescribed by your doctor. Since marijuana and prescription drugs are not as available as alcohol, they are less abused. We’re not saying that people aren’t doing it, as most individuals who are currently in our marijuana rehab center are there for a reason. However, since they have taken the most important step a person who is battling addiction can take, they are much less likely to progress to harder drugs.

3. Drugs change the neural pathways of your brain

There’s no easy way to put this – drugs can alter the way your brain functions. And this applies to all drugs – including gateway drugs. Take nicotine as an example. It most likely isn’t going to kill you, as you can’t suffer from an overdose. However, it will definitely cause some big changes in your body, mostly negative ones. You don’t need us to tell you how detrimental smoking can be, even if you do it for a short period of time only. And the same goes for other drugs. Marijuana overdoses are extremely rare, but the consequences left inside a person’s brain are very common.

These changes are most prominent in young people. Teens who experiment with marijuana are much more likely to move on to harder drugs in the future. Likewise, their brains are very likely to be altered by marijuana use. Their brains are developing at the same time as their bodies, so it only makes sense that they are at a higher risk for complications. Finally, teens and young adults are much more susceptible to peer pressure. They might use a drug just because others are telling them that it’s cool and trendy.

A plate filled with small paper pieces with different words on them.
By focusing on the other aspects of your life and a healthy lifestyle, you can correct some of these changes.

All of these changes make the brain more primed to respond to the chemical changes from more powerful drugs down the line. So do we think that you should ever risk it with these drugs? Absolutely not! There isn’t a positive change that can come from using them. But if you are already in the shackles of addiction, know that it’s possible to overturn some of them. You just need to seek suitable and timely help.

4. Animal tests show that gateway drugs lead to administering more drugs later on

Performing animal testing has long been used as a way to gauge how different processes affect human beings. There’s a lot of debate about whether such testing is humane, but we won’t get into that. Instead, we will focus on the findings of these tests. The subject of gateway drugs is an important issue nowadays. That’s why they have been studied and tested on animals, leading to a very important finding. Namely, being exposed to gateway drugs early has led animals to self-administer more drugs later on. In a way, that only proves what we have been saying thus far. Experimenting with a gateway drug is likely to lead to abusing harder drugs later on.

However, there’s one very important thing for you to keep in mind – we differ from the animal world. Of course, there’s a good reason why animal testing is valid in the science world. A good portion of animal behavior can be applied to human behavior. But we think it’s important to remember that human behavior will sometimes differ from animal conduct. That’s why we can only use these studies as a reference, not as a rule of thumb.

What to do if you get addicted to gateway drugs?

If not careful, the occasional drink on a night out can turn into alcoholism. Likewise, smoking marijuana every once in a while can lead to a short or long stay in a rehab facility in Pennsylvania. The first step is actually realizing that you need help. As simple as it sounds, this is usually the most difficult part. If you notice that you can’t go a day without consuming these substances, you can be certain that you need help. Likewise, if the symptoms of withdrawal begin as soon as you miss your dose, don’t hesitate to search for help.

A man sitting on the beach and looking at a phone.
The first step is all about recognizing that you need help and then actually finding it.

The good news is that there are many rehab facilities that will be able to help you battle your addiction. Most of them specialize in different forms of addiction. Therefore, you can find a Pennsylvania opioid treatment programs center and get the necessary help for your problem with prescription drugs. Likewise, you can find an alcohol rehab facility that can treat this problem in an optimal way. Why is it important to find a rehab center that matches your addiction, you ask? Well, what will work for alcoholism might not work for an addiction to marijuana. Truth be told, there are many rehab facilities nowadays that provide the necessary assistance with most forms of addiction.

Our suggestion is for you to go out and seek a treatment center that has plenty of experience in addiction recovery. Apart from experience, your chosen rehab center should perfectly suit your needs. From the way that the rooms look to the cost of the treatment, everything should be in perfect alignment. Know that you shouldn’t settle for the second-best rehab facility. With how many choices you have nowadays, it makes no sense to sacrifice your wants and needs. For example, Little Creek Recovery is the perfect place if you want to recover in a small and intimate setting. Likewise, if being surrounded by nature is your cup of tea, then you will find us to be just what you need.

Should you ever try out gateway drugs?

We’ll leave this decision up to you. However, we can provide our input and opinion that is backed up by years of experience in the industry. It would be perfect if you could always stay away from every gateway drug. That way, you would never have to take on any risks, which would keep you out of harm’s way. However, life is never perfect. Therefore, it’s perfectly normal to enjoy an occasional drink or take prescription drugs when necessary. But if you are doing it, you should have all the facts straight before indulging in a drink or even marijuana. If you are brave enough to try marijuana, you should do it with the necessary knowledge about where it might lead.

A man holding a bottle.
If you do decide to indulge in an occasional drink, make sure you do it in moderation.

Gateway drugs are usually the starting line of the journey. For those who start abusing these drugs frequently, nothing good awaits at the finish line. These drugs will oftentimes lead to using and misusing some harder drugs, like cocaine and heroin. If you have already tried these drugs and believe to be addicted, there’s only one thing to do – seek the right treatment facility. You shouldn’t hesitate to contact us and allow our professionals to provide help and assistance. They have more than enough knowledge in the field of addiction recovery, and they are backed up by years of experience. With a tailored plan that will be made specifically for your needs, you’ll be able to be on your way to recovery in the optimal timespan.

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