Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug to Cocaine and Heroin Use?

You may have googled the terms “Is marijuana a gateway drug” and found information that confirms that marijuana is a gateway drug linked to future use of “harder” or more addictive substances. If you or someone you love is currently using marijuana and are concerned it can lead to use or abuse of alcohol or other drugs, then this article may help you seek professional treatment.

How is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?

A gateway drug is one that leads to use, abuse, or dependence on “harder” drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Cannabis, popularly known as marijuana, weed, and dope, is a controlled narcotic drug in the US. Limited, legal use is allowed for medical purposes. However, an article, Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?, published by the National Institute on Drugs Abuse (NIDA), stated that marijuana use is likely to precede use and addiction to other licit and illicit substances. This happens because marijuana changes brain chemicals, making you crave for stronger drugs to get the level of euphoria you seek.

Marijuana Use May Lead to Cocaine or Heroin Use

Cocaine, also known as “coke” and “powder,” is an illegal drug and a highly addictive stimulant responsible for almost 14,000 overdose deaths in 2017. This is according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Heroin is an illicit opioid drug. Like cocaine, it is highly addictive and goes by various street names including Hell Dust and Big H. Millions of Americans between ages 18-30 use this drug, which is at the heart of the opioid addiction crisis.

Many individuals who abuse cocaine or heroin are believed to have started off with marijuana use. They may even engage in polydrug abuse, meaning they use marijuana with cocaine or heroin, or all three drugs. Polydrug abuse greatly increases the risk of hospitalization and drug overdose.

Why Marijuana Users May Turn to Other Drugs

People who use the gateway drug marijuana may start using cocaine, heroin, or prescription drugs mainly to seek a different type of high or a higher high. The search for other substances may be compulsive if marijuana addiction is present. Because the brain changes make you lose control over drug use, you may begin to use marijuana more frequently or in larger doses. After a while, it stops creating the same euphoria it uses to, leading you to use or abuse other drugs.