What Is a Gateway Drug?

A gateway drug is a substance that may predispose an Orlando resident to eventually experiment with other drugs like heroin, cocaine and ecstasy. These gateway drugs may be legal substances like tobacco and alcohol or illicit drugs like marijuana. It is commonly believed that these entry level substances may make a user more comfortable with trying other drugs later in his life. For example, the U.S. Department of Education has stated that tobacco use is commonly associated with alcohol and illicit drug use and is often the first drug used by young people who enter a sequence of drug use that can include tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and harder drugs.

Signs of an Addictive Personality in Orlando Residents

Gateway drug use can be predictive of more intensive drug use in the future, although it is not necessarily a cause and effect relationship. Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics studied the drug use of twin siblings in 2004 and found that correlated genetic and environmental influences can cause a link between early marijuana use and later drug use. These findings suggest that Orlando residents who use gateway drugs may face a greater risk of becoming addicted to other drugs and may be genetically predisposed to a vulnerability to addiction.

The 2002 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse came to a similar conclusion, noting that those who are predisposed to use drugs and have the opportunity to use drugs are more likely than others to use both marijuana and harder drugs.

Dangers of Gateway Drugs for Orlando Residents

Using a gateway drug does not necessarily mean that the user will begin using more illegal drugs. However, it can indicate that genetic, social or environmental factors may be putting Orlando residents at risk for developing a drug addiction. There are a number of questions that you may ask yourself to help determine if you are at risk for developing a drug addiction, including the following:

  • Do I drink alcohol every day?
  • Do I regularly smoke marijuana?
  • Am I addicted to nicotine?
  • Do my family and friends abuse gateway drugs or other illegal substances?

Answering yes to any of these questions may indicate a warning sign. Also, even though substances such as alcohol and marijuana are called gateway drugs, alcoholism and marijuana addiction are serious conditions that require immediate attention.

How Orlando Residents Can Fight Addiction

The most effective way for Orlando residents to prevent or recover from a drug or alcohol dependency is to talk with an addiction specialist. A treatment professional can help addicts in a number of ways, including the following:

  • Screening patients for possible predispositions
  • Determining the extent of a patient’s abuse or addiction
  • Creating a personalized plan to prevent or recover from drug abuse
  • Recommending the most effective treatment for addiction

Finding Help for Addicts from Orlando

If you or someone you love in Orlando is abusing a gateway drug or struggling with addiction, please call our toll-free helpline now. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to discuss warning signs, set up screenings and answer questions about gateway drugs and addiction. We can help connect you with the best treatment options for your situation. Please call now.