When it comes to the real gateway drug, alcohol fits the bill. For years, people have said that marijuana is the true gateway, but recent research has proven that alcohol takes the lead.
What is a Gateway Drug?
A gateway drug is best described as a substance that can lead to the use of harder and more addictive drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, or heroin.
It has been proven in numerous research studies that more people begin using alcohol before marijuana and other substances.
Alcohol Classified as a Drug
Now you’re probably asking yourself, how can alcohol be a drug? That’s a good question because most people never recognize it as residing in that category.
Alcohol is classified as a drug because it not only alters the brain causing people to make irrational decisions, but it’s also addictive and can cause other major health issues thanks to consumption.
How Alcohol Becomes Addictive
Think about it, how many times have you craved chocolate and once you got started on that candy bar you wanted more? The same can be said of coffee and soda. These things could be considered drugs because the caffeine that they contain is also addictive. Once you start, you can’t help but finish and want more.
The same goes for alcohol and other substances. According to EverdayHealth.com, although alcohol doesn’t contain caffeine, it does set off endorphins, also known as “feel good” chemicals. The endorphins are released from the pituitary gland of the brain and send signals of relaxation and happiness into the body, thus causing the person to crave more.
Some of the reasons people drink might be:
- To relieve stress or anxiety
- To “fit in”
- To deal with the recent loss of a loved one, job, etc.
- To feel good
Alcohol Starts a Downward Spiral
You could say that drinking alcohol may start a downward spiral. It’s legal and easy to obtain. It’s cheaper and more acceptable than other substances. Quite often, young people start drinking because alcohol is easy to reach. Once people begin to drink, there is a chance that they may become addicted, always craving more; moving forward toward other combinations of “feel good” substances. Sometimes people chase their daily medications with alcohol because they believe they will feel even better.
While drinking alcohol may seem to make them feel good, they then advance to smoking pot and later find coke and other substances to mix with the alcohol to achieve an even bigger “high.” You can see how easy it is for alcohol to trigger a downward spiral.
Signs of Alcohol Addiction
If you or someone you know exhibits any or all of the following signs, seek help now before the problem becomes even bigger:
- Alcohol consumption is out of control
- Making alcohol a priority over everything else
- Constant alcohol cravings
- Spending an extreme amount of money on alcohol
- Behavior is out of control after drinking
Not sure where to turn next? We can help. Read more about the major indications of an addiction