Alcohol May Be the REAL Gateway Drug…

Marijuana has long been hailed as the main gateway drug in our society. A “gateway drug” means that it leads to other drug use. Essentially, a person would get high on marijuana first, which would then wind up leading to alcohol, pills, and eventually harder drugs like heroin, cocaine, and meth. In the age of marijuana legalization, the debate continues on whether or not smoking weed leads to other drug use, landing a person in the grips of addiction. Marijuana definitely has its fans and it’s one of those topics that cause strong emotional reactions from its supporters. One of the pro-marijuana arguments is that alcohol is more of a gateway drug than weed and that liquor causes society a wide range of problems that don’t exist amongst people who smoke pot or take edibles. While the arguments about cannabis continue, a new study has recently been published that actually calls alcohol out as the real gateway drug.

alcohol might be the real gateway drug

The study was conducted at the University of Florida and found that preventing children from consuming alcohol and delaying their use until later in life greatly reduces their chances of becoming addicted to drugs. The Guttman Scale was used and showed alcohol was much more of a gateway drug than weed, resulting in individuals being drawn into other substance use such as tobacco, marijuana, and other legal and illegal drugs. The study also showed that youths who consumed alcohol had a greatly increased potential to use other drugs as compared to marijuana.

“Some of these earlier iterations needed to be fleshed out, that’s why we wanted to study this. The latest form of the gateway theory is that it begins with [marijuana] and moves on finally to what laypeople often call ‘harder drugs.’ As you can see from the findings of our study, it confirmed this gateway hypothesis, but it follows a progression from licit substances, specifically alcohol, and moves on to illicit substances,” said study co-author Adam E. Barry.

One of the reasons alcohol may be a far greater gateway drug than marijuana is because of the social stigma marijuana has (or had) and the fact that alcohol is a legal, socially acceptable drug that even our federal law seems to agree with. However, alcohol is dangerous when not used responsibly. Not only can a person die from over-indulgence and literally poison themselves, but their behavior while intoxicated can be erratic, unpredictable, and they can wind up hurting someone else. Lastly, alcohol has one of the most severe types of withdrawal and a person can actually die from the detox symptoms if not medically-assisted and closely monitored. But alas, alcohol isn’t a drug that seems to be taken very seriously and I think that does our society a huge disservice. Just look at all the car accidents, deaths, DUI’s, and domestic violence situations that happen—all fueled by alcohol.

We need to take a hard look at how we view alcohol. It doesn’t matter if alcohol is the real gateway drug or if weed is. The fact is, we have a huge substance abuse problem going on and we need to take all drug use seriously. It doesn’t matter if it’s legal or illegal.

Case in point, Oxycontin is legal.


Jason Good

Jason has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 10 years. Having been an addict himself he brings real-word experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Jason is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions. Jason is also the co-host of The Addiction Podcast—Point of No Return. You can follow Jason on Google+, Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.