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What Is a Gateway Drug?

a mother worries about her teen using marijuana because it is regarded as a gateway drug

Drugs like marijuana or prescription medicines can be non-addictive and safe to use. When used in a healthy amount, people can use these substances without developing dependence and becoming addicted. However, for some individuals, this is not the case. There are still risks associated with using legal substances like alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana. People can misuse and abuse these substances and struggle with addiction. Not all drugs are illegal, but individuals can still develop a negative relationship with them.

If you are struggling with addiction, it is essential to reach out for help. Many treatment options are available to help you through each stage of the recovery process. At Northpoint Nebraska, we provide many substance abuse treatment programs, including marijuana addiction treatment, to help patients through any type of substance abuse. Call 888.351.3834 for more information.

What Is a Gateway Drug?

So, what is a gateway drug? A gateway drug is an introductory, habit-forming substance that can lead to more extreme drug use in the future. It is not common for an individual to try heroin or cocaine the first time they use drugs. Gateway drugs tend to be milder and more accessible than hard drugs. People are also typically introduced to gateway drugs in adolescence and young adulthood. When a person tries a gateway drug, they are more likely to try more. Often, the subsequent drugs an individual uses are stronger and more potent than the ones before.

When an individual tries gateway drugs like marijuana or alcohol, it increases their dopamine levels and causes a high. The more often and regularly they use gateway drugs, the user can develop a tolerance. This means they experience less of the drug’s effect and need more to experience a high. When this happens, individuals may seek out different drugs with a stronger high. This is likely to lead to addiction and cause significant side effects on their physical and mental health.

Types of Gateway Drugs

There are different types of gateway drugs that can lead to more serious drug use and addiction. Knowing them can alert you when someone in your life is in danger of developing an addiction to drugs. If drug use does turn into an addiction, it is critical to seek professional help and find a rehab program.

The most common types of gateway drugs are:

  • Prescription Drugs – Many people are prescribed or have access to opioid painkillers, which can lead to substance abuse. When they develop a tolerance, an individual can seek out stronger opiates and even heroin.
  • Nicotine – Cigarettes and vapes contain nicotine which is highly addictive and can lead to more serious drug use.
  • Marijuana – While marijuana is becoming legal in more states, people can develop a tolerance and become dependent.

Marijuana is the most common type of gateway drug. It is easily accessible to many people, and it is popular among young adults. While marijuana is legal in many states and has legitimate medicinal purposes, when misused, it can become a problem. It is seen as a soft or lesser drug, but marijuana can be addictive. When an individual builds high tolerance for marijuana, they may seek out a more dangerous drug to experience a more intense high. This will lead to more serious effects on your overall well-being.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment at Northpoint Nebraska

At Northpoint Nebraska, we provide treatment for many substances, including marijuana. Everyone’s experiences with addiction are different; some may start using a gateway drug, and others may not. We create individualized treatment plans that tailor our programs and services to best help each patient on their recovery journey. Some of the addiction treatment programs we offer include:

  • Alcohol Detox and Rehab
  • Drug Detox and Rehab
  • Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment
  • Relapse Prevention Program
  • Medical Detox Program
  • Vivitrol Treatment

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, contact Northpoint Nebraska at 888.351.3834 or by filling out our online form to learn how our team can help you.