Alcohol abuse has long been a problem in our society that often gets overlooked when the news is full of headlines warning about the dangers of drugs. However, it is essential to note the severe role that alcohol plays in the development of addictions. In most people’s lives, alcohol is one of the first mind-altering substances that they’ll try. Yet, people often fail to think about the serious long-term consequences that can come with taking that very first sip. When you find yourself wondering is alcohol considered a gateway drug, it is time to explore exactly how that couple of drinks could lead someone down a dangerous road.
What Is a Gateway Drug?
The best way to understand what a gateway drug is would be to consider it a stepping stone to more severe habits. One of the reasons why people tend to ask is alcohol considered a gateway drug is that they don’t always realize that drinking can lead to people experiencing side effects such as impaired judgment that lead to them trying other types of substances. You should also know that tobacco is considered a gateway drug. When someone engages in the use of these substances, they set up a pattern of experimentation that can cause them to seek out new types of substance-induced stimulation.
Why Does Alcohol Seem So Innocent?
If you think about it, alcohol is just about everywhere that you look. People drink at weddings and other social events. You also see people enjoy an alcoholic beverage after work or even as a sacrament at church. Younger adults often see drinking alcohol depicted on television and movies as being a rite of passage that helps people become the life of the party. When something is portrayed as being so good, it can often be hard to realize that it could be harmful.
How Many People Use Alcohol as a Gateway Drug?
The startling truth behind the question of is alcohol considered a gateway drug is that the majority of people who go on to develop addictions claim that they started with a drink. This behavior pattern also starts younger than many people might think. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that minors between the ages of 12 and 20 drink more than 11 percent of the alcohol that is consumed in America. It is also important to mention that the majority of the alcohol consumed by this age group is done in the form of binge drinking. This tends to heighten the effects of alcohol, and it makes it more likely that a teen or college student may be tempted to try other forms of illicit substances.
Is Alcohol Bad On Its Own?
You will occasionally hear that alcohol has health benefits. While science is continuously going back and forth on this issue, you should be aware that the potential for developing an addiction is sometimes not worth any benefits that drinking could provide. When you understand that the answer to your question of is alcohol considered a gateway drug is yes, you may find that you can’t help but worry about people who begin to drink at a young age.
What Are the Dangers Associated With Drinking?
Many dangers are associated with drinking, and you are likely already familiar with the way that drinking and driving can lead to severe injuries and even death. Those who consume alcohol in large quantities over a long period also set themselves up for the potential of developing severe effects on their health, such as liver disease. Alcohol also generates something called cross-sensitization. This means that it can cause someone’s body to heighten the brain reactions that are felt when a person drinks alcohol. This cross-sensitivity can cause that person to seek then out new experiences that generate the same response. For instance, someone might choose to try cocaine to feel a sense of excitement that they initially feel when they drink.
What are the Signs of Addiction?
With alcohol, addiction tends to build up slowly until a person begins to worry about whether or not they have crossed the line. Some people never realize that it is their drinking that led them to use a stronger type of drug. In either case, the signs of addiction tend to be similar. Someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol will experience cravings that cause them to want to use the substance even when they know that it is harming their life.
A person that has found out the hard way that the truth is alcohol considered a gateway drug is yes may also find that they need more of the substance to experience the same effects that they did before. This is called tolerance, and it develops as the brain begins to react differently to the chemicals that a person puts into their body. The use of multiple kinds of drugs combined with alcohol can lead to a stronger tolerance level while also increasing the dangers that the misuse poses to a person’s mind and body.
When alcohol is used as a gateway drug, you might notice that they give it up as they begin to rely upon potent substances such as heroin or meth more. In some cases, they may continue to drink and mix the substances. This places them at risk for a severe overdose since alcohol does not mix safely with certain drugs. For instance, alcohol and prescription pain killers both depress the nervous system, which can lead to a coma or death.
How Can Someone Get Help for Alcohol or Drug Misuse?
It is always sad when drinking alcohol turns into an addiction, but it is good to know that help is available. With professional counseling, people can overcome their addictions to drugs and alcohol and look forward to a healthy life in sobriety. The process of working through addictive behavior patterns looks different for everyone, and you or your loved one can benefit from reaching out for help.
Gateway drugs often seem so innocent at first that teens and young adults don’t think anything of trying it. Even older adults can be misled by the enjoyable effects of having that glass of beer or wine when they get home from work. Talking to teens and young adults about why is alcohol considered a gateway drug is the best way to help them avoid falling into the trap of using stronger substances, and everyone should watch out for the signs of addiction in the people that they know. Whether you find yourself dealing with addiction or notice the signs in someone you love, seeking help as soon as possible helps to break the chains that are put in place by imbibing in alcohol.