The idea of a milder drug, such as marijuana, causing a person to turn to harder drugs in the future has existed since the 1970s, although the term gateway drug was actually coined in the 1980s. Ever since, our society has been concerned with the idea of what is considered soft substance abuse and how it can potentially lead to harder drug abuse.
Certain statistics lend themselves to this theory. For example, 90 percent of cocaine abusers in the U.S. admitted to having smoked cigarettes before they turned to cocaine in a recent national survey. This could seem like a clear indicator of the gateway drug theory, except that many individuals who smoke cigarettes don’t abuse cocaine, some of whom have never done so in their lives. As such, there isn’t a clear correlation between the use of nicotine and cocaine, just like with many other soft and hard substances.
However, we are beginning to consider prescription drugs and their potential for causing dangerous substance abuse. Recent statistics show people who use opioids non medically are 19 times more likely to eventually abuse heroin than the general public. Still, there are many individuals who take prescription drugs safely and effectively as doctors recommend who do not experience serious substance use disorders.
According to all recent data, the idea that using one type of substance is a slippery slope to other, more dangerous drugs is false. There are many more factors associated with addiction. However, people who do abuse so-called gateway drugs should remember that they are still capable of causing their own substance use disorders. Anyone who struggles with substance abuse should seek professional treatment help. You can find a comprehensive directory of rehab centers in locations all across the country at Addictions.com.