What is Marijuana a gateway drug to? Understanding teen marijuana use and later drug use

Marijuana has been branded the gateway drug. This is partly due to the prevalent use and accessibility especially 8th to12thgraders where most adolescent experiment drugs. This blog will try to answer the question if Marijuana is the gateway drug and if it is, what is Marijuana a gateway drug to.

What is a Gateway drug? Understanding the way adolescent start using drugs.

The definition of gateway drug is “a habit-forming drug that, while not itself addictive, may lead to the use of other addictive drugs”.

This concept was popularized in the 80s with that the use of certain gateway drugs and substances could lead to a higher probability to advance to other more addictive drugs.

The concept did not differentiate whether the gateway drug had a sequence of use or caused use or explain whether these two do need to be coupled and further research is still going on.

The Main drugs considered to be gateway drugs included tobacco, marijuana and alcohol.

This theory has been contradicted by latest research that argues that gateway drug is not about the drug that the individual first use but when the drug is used. According to the center for addiction in the US any drug that is used when the brain is still developing is a gateway drug. This clarifies the question of causation in the fact that gateway drug interferes with the biological development of the brain, altering the make up and possible priming the underdeveloped brain for drug us later.

Marijuana and use among teens:

Marijuana is known by different social names from grass, weed, pot, Mary Jane, herbs, and many more slang. It is made from the dried flowers of Cannabis Sativa plants. Currently, it can be disguised in cookies and other edibles.

According to the NIH Drug facts, Marijuana is the highest used drug in the US. It is mostly used among the adolescents 8thgrad to 12thgrade. The use had started to go down but have steadily come up in relation to the legalization and loosening restrictions for recreational and medical use.

Marijuana Use and later serious drug use and addiction: Any Association.

It is a fact that Marijuana use generally precedes hard drugs use among the adolescent and youth. The current research however does not support that Marijuana use caused hard drug use later. It seems to point that at best marijuana use in adolescence precedes other drugs. The Gateway theory started in the 1930s. The Reefer madness movie helped spread this. This was then modified in late 70s and 80s and more research has developed this to what we have as the current research findings which have continued to disbanding the gateway drug theory.

The current findings support that the relationship between using Marijuana as an entry drug and later use of hard drug has more to do with genetically predisposed behavior path.

The 5 factors that influence the adolescent to pick Marijuana and later hard drugs use may include:

  1. Family environment influence
  2. Little or no parental monitoring
  3. Exposure to difficult neighborhoods
  4. Genetics and Genetic influences including risk taking, depression etc

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

Zikora www.addictedfamily.com

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  1. A pretty interesting article about marijuana: I have to agree and disagree about some point, but in general, I agree with everything you have listed. Thank you for this piece of information.

    • Thank you for your input Ivan. This is an interesting topic and one we can definitely all benefit with more research.

  2. Interesting article. I have always thought it was not quite right to call marijuana a “gateway drug”. Just because it is the first drug that that most people have a chance to try, doesn’t mean it is to blame for you continuing to try harder drugs as you grow older.

    If crack was everywhere and easily obtainable in high school, then the kids would probably try that, which in turn may make them try marijuana later. Then crack would be the gateway drug to a lesser drug. Anyways, just my thoughts. Good thought provoking article. Thanks.

    • True. Great observation. Its all about obtainability. I think focusing on the gateway drugs might throw us off from addressing the real issue which is the brain development interruption for the youth.

  3. I found your article to be very encouraging. As a teen and young adult, I was easily hooked on anything that altered my state of mind. Alcohol nearly destroyed me and other family members struggled with alcoholism and/or depression. As a result, I became a very protective parent and homeschooled my children. My youngest recently started public middle school and as you might guess, I have been somewhat apprehensive. I have warned my children to be careful because they come from a family that tends to become addicted to things. Although I was fortunate enough to avoid drug addiction, I struggled with nicotine and later food addictions. It’s good to know that out of the risk factors you list above only one applies to my family. Thank you for tackling this difficult subject.

  4. Interesting opinion piece. But, as a recovering addict (25 years clean) I’m not sure I agree. I think marijuana has some valid medical uses and is much less harmful than alcohol. I’m OK with legalization in all states.
    I don’t think it was a gateway drug for me, even though it was the first drug I ever used. I just wanted to be accepted and fit in, and the pot smokers accepted me with open arms.
    I’m pretty sure that no matter what drug I tried first, I would have went on to try them all. It wasn’t really about the drug. Addiction goes way deeper than a specific drug.

  5. I enjoyed reading your article. I believe you have made some good points here. Todays society is so fast paced anymore, that parents are working more than they are parenting.
    Hanging out with the wrong crowds, seeing family members do drugs, and no parental monitoring play big roles in these issues today.
    Thanks for sharing this. People need to be more aware of these problems.

  6. Interesting read Zikora! I live in a country where alcohol is the only legal drug and when I was growing up I rarely got involved with marijuana. As I’ve grown older I’ve realized cannabis is likely a drug with much less negative effects than alcohol but since alcohol is so easy to make and so ingrained in our society, there is no way to truly ban it. I drank a lot when younger and under age and while I don’t really regret it, I would not want my own children to be subjected to the dangers of it. But for adults I think it should be up to everyones own decision what drugs, if any, to use and would legalize at least cannabis and magic mushrooms as they have a lot of healing potential. People are drinking for depression and the sad part is that alcohol only makes it worse while mushrooms could actually cure it. Go figure.

    • Thanks for your comment. I grew up too where local brewed alcohol was more accessible for youth than Marijuana. The research and experience wince to negate the earlier research that suggested that Marijuana is the gateway drug.

  7. Very interesting article about marijuana.
    I have even learnt a few slangs about marijuana like Mary Jane ha ha.
    Another point I think you missed about why adolescents use the drug is because of peer pressure or wanting to fit in.

  8. Hey there,
    nice website but a controversial niche. though you have very well laid down your point of view.
    I agree with the Thabo, that peer pressure is one of the major reason that young kids get addicted.
    Friends circles are the dominant pressure groups and Teenagers tend to follow their friends for more than one reason.
    Apart from it, a nice website, informative posts, and a good writing style.

  9. Interesting view point, but your right pot is a gateway to other drugs. Most drug addicts if them they will tell pot is where they started at. Yes get the word out. Go article.
    Be Blessed

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