What is a Gateway Drug, and Is That Even a Real Thing?

“Gateway drugs” are substances that lead to experimentation with other drugs, that act as gateways opening us up to trying stronger drugs and developing addiction. The gateway drug we hear about most commonly is probably marijuana, and marijuana smokers and proponents are often quick to dispel the idea of gateway drugs as a myth. There is a lot of misinformation about marijuana and other drugs. Smoking marijuana, for example, does not necessarily lead to trying other drugs, and marijuana smokers are often satisfied with it and don’t ever go on to try stronger drugs. It is possible for us, however, to be more inclined to try more drugs, as well as risky, addictive behaviors, once we’ve already tried one drug. Looking at our own experiences, some of us may find that one drug did in fact function as a gateway drug to other harsher drugs.

Drugs are known for lowering our inhibitions, making us feel more empowered and less afraid to take risks with our health and our lives. When on drugs, we can feel invincible, even immortal. We can feel like we have our whole lives ahead of us, so why not make the most of life and really live it up? In this way, any drug can act as a gateway drug for other drugs, or for addictive behaviors. For example, when we drink excessively, we might be more prone to engage in risky behaviors. We might be less inhibited to experiment with other drugs we might normally have been too afraid to try.

When our inhibitions are lowered from drug use, we don’t usually think about consequences. We’re flying high, we’re in the moment. We’re not paying attention to the long-term effects, side effects of after-effects of our drug use. This can cause us to try drugs we might have been afraid to try normally. We might be more reckless. We might be quicker to throw caution to the wind. We might abandon our instincts for self-protection and self-preservation.

Using one drug doesn’t necessarily lead to using other drugs, but it can. All of our experiences are different and unique to us. What is a gateway drug for one person won’t necessarily be for another. Some people can try a drug, even multiple drugs, and never form an attachment, become dependent and or struggle with addiction. Some of us look at our past experiences and can identify that one drug opened us up to being willing to experiment with others, and for us they functioned as gateway drugs, but this isn’t the case for everyone.

The community at Riverside Recovery has personal experience with addiction and recovery. We understand and are here to support you. Call us today: (800) 871-5440.