Is Alcohol a Gateway Drug?

March 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Health

Many argue that, given the accepted nature of it within society, alcohol is far removed from the likes of cannabis in being classified as a “gateway drug”. Most people regard Marijuana, with its varying legality in different parts of the world, as the flagship of gateway drugs (along with tobacco) although recent studies have indicated alcohol to be far more influential. There is also a valid argument that alcohol can provide the perfect setup for the taking of illegal and harmful drugs.

Alcohol is an accepted part of society, providing, for many, a basis for socializing and night-life and, when handled responsibly, it can be enjoyed in social scenarios and facilitate a laid-back and lively atmosphere. Yet the dangers of alcohol and the responsibility that comes with its consumption are underlined by the fact that it is unavailable to those under 21 and, as such, is for adult consumption only. At 21, one is expected to have an inherent level of maturity to understand their own limits and yet, even then, alcohol, in its lowering of inhibitions and relaxing of self-awareness, is regarded as a gateway for harmful drugs. Studies in August 2012’s ‘The Journal of School Health’ have proven alcohol as a far more influential drug in the taking of illicit drugs than marijuana, often regarded as the gateway drug.

When one exceeds their own personal limits, they find themselves in a state where their understanding of right and wrong is blurred and, as such, the idea of taking illegal drugs becomes more attractive. When under the influence of alcohol, one is far more likely to give into peer pressure than when they are sound of mind. Any poll taken, within the United States in the cold light of day, would highlight that, whilst sober, there is a unanimous aversion to the taking of illegal drugs and yet the same people could just as easily fall victim to peer pressure at a time when their inhibitions and sense of reason have been dramatically lowered. Most addictions to illegal drugs begin from an off-hand taking during social situations and almost all of these situations are facilitated by alcohol.Is Alcohol a Gateway Drug

When one surpasses the point of moderation and alcohol becomes a central part of a person’s life , studies and testimonials from drug addicts have shown that people often seek harder drugs as a means of finding a new thrill and high, beyond that which they have come accustomed to via alcohol. Alcoholism has a deep rooted effect on the personality of the sufferer, leading to what is theoretically known as an “addictive personality”. Studies at the Las Vegas ‘Adult Drug Court Program’ showed that 27% of the harder drug addicts said their addiction began via an earlier alcohol addiction.

Although alcohol can be largely detrimental, its legality is a testament to the fact that, as long as one understands their own limits and the potential risks of alcohol, it can have positive impacts in social situations and continues to benefit the wider economy. However, it is important that users do not drink in excess to the point where their sense of rationality and reason are lowered or to the point when an alcohol dependency creates a pathway to illegal drug use. Although harder drug addiction has been linked to a number of contextual and psychological factors, alcohol has an undeniable influence in creating a pathway towards harder drugs and as such, if one feels the need to drink, it is always essential that they do so responsibly.

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