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Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?

teen taking marijuana joints

 

There have been many debates as to whether marijuana is a gateway drug. Proponents of marijuana legalization will say no, there is no evidence of this. It may be true that there are plenty of people who smoke marijuana and never go on to using other drugs. But the fact remains that marijuana itself is a drug, which essentially is a toxin and people, youth especially, shouldn’t be using drugs. It’s really as simple as that. But what about the rest who were led to believe that smoking weed is no big deal (or that it’s actually good for you), and because of this do go on to become hardcore drug addicts? What about those individuals who lose their lives due to overdose?

 

With the opioid crisis facing us today, we need to be concerned that the normalization of marijuana and its subsequent increased use, particularly among teens, could contribute to the broader use of stronger, more dangerous drugs such as heroin. Some things to consider is that tolerance is built up the longer a person uses a drug. With marijuana, that desire for a stronger high just might sway someone to try a few opioid painkillers, cocaine or heroin to find that “better high.” Also being high on marijuana means their judgment is somewhat skewed and inhibitions lowered, so they are more likely to make a poor decision when faced with that choice.

 

For those of us working in drug prevention or rehabilitation, this progression from a “starter” drug like marijuana or alcohol to a deadly one has been evident to us for decades. Far too many people have entered the Narconon drug rehabilitation program, telling their story of how they wound up as an opioid, cocaine or Xanax addict. Here’s a couple of the stories we’ve heard.

 

“I started smoking pot to fit in with everybody. And it looked like everybody was having a good time. And they told me ‘nobody’s died from smoking pot.’ So I did it and it progressed into cocaine and heroin and my life was just downhill.  Once I was smoking pot, I was around people who were doing other drugs, so it made it easier to just do those other drugs. I was like, well, these people are doing it and they seem fine. So I did it.”

 

“How I started using marijuana, I was in middle school, around 12 years old, didn’t really know who I was as a person. I looked around to see what I wanted to be like, what I wanted to strive to be. I wanted to fit in, I wanted to be a social person. And that’s one of the reasons I started using marijuana. From then on, it just kind of snowballed. I became okay with using other things. It’s not like I set out to be a heroin addict but it ended up that way. Before I knew it I was too deep to pull myself out.”

 

Whether or not marijuana is a gateway drug isn’t really the issue. This drug creates plenty of its own damage to a person and their life. The issue really is that our kids are swamped with false information about drugs, marijuana in particular. The Narconon drug education curriculum was designed to address this misinformation by including a key component on marijuana education. The Marijuana the Myth video is a film of a live interactive classroom presentation that explains what marijuana really does to a person and reveals the false information kids have been exposed to over the years. The accompanying lessons reinforce this information and allow students to arrive at their own conclusions.