Marijuana is fast becoming the new ‘it’ drug, not only because of its addictive factor but also the people endorsing its use. You may have thought in the past of trying it, or someone you know is an addict.
In fact, opinion divides sharply on its benefits and harmful effects, as some people may think it does not pose the dangers of diseases such as cancer, unlike other drugs that many seem to see as ‘dangerous’ like alcohol and tobacco. However, this is not exactly the case, and it may present a form of escapism for many who feel like trying ‘safe drugs’, yet it is causing more harm than good. It leads to a greater problem with marijuana withdrawal, and detoxes can be harder to achieve unless you truly want to stop using the drug.
What is the gateway theory?
Also referred to by medical professionals as progression hypothesis, stepping stone theory or escalation hypothesis, it is a phrase that the medical community uses. It refers to the belief that using a psychoactive drug (chemical substance that alters the functioning of the brain), in addition to other factors, leads to higher chances of using other drugs.
The possible reasons for this change may include biological changes within the brain that the earlier drug causes, as well as similar attitudes of different users that use various drugs. This problem has led to extensive research on different drugs, particularly marijuana that has a particularly high addiction rate.
When did the gateway drugs theory begin?
The growth of this thought, and the rise of its popularity, was primarily in the 1970s and 1980s. many studies on drug abuse came up, especially regarding drug abuse in adolescents, and showed that drug abuse was a sequential development, often starting with wine or beer.
However, some findings seemed to contradict each other. Many teens that had experience with taking cigarettes or alcohol did not move on to abuse harder drugs, while others went on to abuse harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
What are the dangers of marijuana use as a gateway drug?
You may not be aware of it, but some scientific research reveals that when you are a user of marijuana, it is most likely to precede your adaptation and addiction to other illicit and licit substances, as well as more frequent use of harder drugs.
The proof lies in the accounts of various individuals. A recent study that used longitudinal information with the NESA (National Epidemiological Study of Alcohol Use and related disorders) and the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) proves that individuals that struggle with abusing marijuana within the first wave of questioning were more likely to become alcohol addicts within three years. Individuals that used marijuana and also suffered alcoholism had higher chances of their alcoholism becoming worse. In addition, addictions to nicotine were higher in people that abuse and are addicts of marijuana.
Proving the connection is however, easier said than done. Accounting for these links remains a source of constant debates, even within the research community. In some quarters, alcohol is seen as more of a ‘gateway drug’, much more than marijuana – due to its alterations of the brain largely.
Is marijuana really a ‘getaway drug’?
You cannot deny the arguments for this drug being a link to other drugs and illicit substances, and confusion will be supreme unless the matter receives some addressing and closure. This is due to the argument of the drug acting as an ‘introduction’ to other drugs, and findings support the claim.
However, several arguments exist to change this view. It may sound reasonable and may make sense to many people, as users of hard drugs tend to begin with marijuana or ‘lighter drugs’. in light of the arguments for and against the drug, reasons abound why making marijuana a drug having links to other drugs does not make complete sense, such as:
Not everyone who uses marijuana wants to try other drugs
Here is a fact you may miss – not every person that uses marijuana is tempted to try other drugs. It can happen, for sure, as there is no way to predict how your body reacts to the drug in the system, but it is not a guarantee.
Its use is gaining more acceptance even among the genera public, as it gives its users some benefits, though evidence of how it helps remains unclear. In fact, marijuana is useful in certain occasions to help addicts of other drugs detox from their addictions, particularly individuals that have addiction to narcotics.
In this case, honesty is paramount. If you see something that has all the markings of an illegal substance, chances are you want to use it and see what the thrill entails. The same principle applies to marijuana – much of its status as a ‘gateway drug’ come from the fact that authorities do not allow it.
This forces anyone who wants it to purchase from illegal markets. However, the traders present in these markets do not just sell the drug alone, as they have other things that they want to sell. Because of this scenario, the marijuana user will buy any harder drugs on sale and use them as well, which leads to the connection of the two drugs. When the ban on the drug is lifted, the links between marijuana and the other harmful narcotics will fade.
So is marijuana really a gateway drug?
Even though there is presence of evidence showing that marijuana use leads to addiction to other drugs, most evidence shows that this is not always the case. In fact, legalization of marijuana can make the problem reduce in scope, as it may stop the tendency of people to use harder drugs.
This does not make marijuana harmless or invalidate the research that is continually on it, but it does shed light on the issue of legalization and encourages the use of concrete evidence.