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:
- Family environment influence
- Little or no parental monitoring
- Exposure to difficult neighborhoods
- 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,