20 Nov Gateway Drugs
Very few people go from a clean and sober lifestyle straight to hard drug addiction. The problem usually begins with a gateway drug. A gateway drug is a legal substance that is readily available and opens the door to use of other, more harmful drugs. Gateway drugs have addictive properties and forming an addiction to one substance makes a person more vulnerable to forming other addictions.
One of the most common gateway drugs is alcohol. Alcohol is available in almost every situation and is a big part of our culture. Drinking alcohol impairs judgment and lowers inhibitions. Those under its influence are more likely to do things they wouldn’t normally do, including use other drugs. Alcohol is an addictive substance that can lead to other forms of drug use as well as to alcoholism.
Another common gateway drug is tobacco. Many of the characteristics of tobacco make it likely to lead to other drug use. Those who use it become comfortable with putting something into their body by unpleasant means. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco don’t taste good and most people don’t enjoy it the first time they use it. It’s something they have to get use to over time, and this process can make it easier for them to be comfortable with drug use later on. Like alcohol, tobacco is an addictive substance and giving in to cravings associated with it can begin a pattern of addictive behavior that can spill over into other types of drugs.
Studies show that most people who have a drug problem begin using alcohol or tobacco, or both, at a young age, usually in high school or earlier. The main motivation for this behavior is peer pressure and a desire to fit in. Giving in to these outside influences starts a slippery slope that can later lead to accepting even more dangerous drugs. Parents should have an open dialogue with young people about the dangers of drug use. Those already inhibited by an alcohol or tobacco addiction should seek help in trying to quit before further problems develop.