Gateway drugs are often considered safer or less addictive than other types of drugs. However, gateway drug abuse can easily lead to addiction, which requires the help of a substance abuse treatment center to overcome.
Foothills at Red Oak Recovery offers addiction treatment programs for teenage boys. We know teens often need professional support to overcome addiction to gateway drugs. When they don’t get the help they need, they’re at higher risk of struggling with mental health, academic performance, and other areas of life impacted by substance use. Call 866.300.5275 today to learn more about getting help for teen drug abuse at Foothills at Red Oak Recovery. We are here to help teens reclaim their lives, health, and future.
What Are Gateway Drugs?
Gateway drugs are considered less dangerous, harmful, or addictive than drugs that cause physical dependence. Some of the most common substances regarded as gateway drugs include:
- Prescription drugs
Teen drug abuse often begins with the use of gateway drugs. There’s often a perception that gateway drugs don’t do serious damage but are problematic because their use eventually leads teens to experiment with and become addicted to more dangerous drugs like cocaine, meth, or heroin.
Are Gateway Drugs Addictive?
Often, gateway drugs are viewed as safer because they’re more widely used than other types of drugs. Gateway drugs can be just as dangerous as other drugs, and their use often leads to addiction.
Some gateway drugs can be legally acquired after a certain age or with a doctor’s prescription. However, that doesn’t mean they are any safer. Some drugs, such as alcohol and prescription medications, lead to physical dependence and even death for many people.
Any mind-altering substance brings the potential for abuse and addiction. Even though not all substances create a physical dependence, the mental and emotional dependence combined with the impact on brain chemistry means it’s possible to become addicted to any substance.
Does a Teen Need Treatment for Gateway Drug Abuse?
Teens who abuse gateway drugs may downplay the seriousness of their substance use. They might insist to parents that marijuana isn’t addictive or that they only drink alcohol recreationally. The common theme is the claim that gateway drug use isn’t a problem.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Teens who experiment with gateway drugs are more likely to also experiment with other drugs. Even when this doesn’t happen, regular gateway drug use can easily lead to addiction.
Teens who make a habit of using any mind-altering substance are more likely to experience the following:
- Psychological dependence on the substance
- Mental and emotional health concerns
- Changes in personality
- Altered relationships with friends and family
- Issues with grades and school behavior
- Physical health problems
- Cognitive difficulties
Today, behavioral health professionals increasingly recognize that gateway drugs like marijuana can influence a teen’s well-being in a way that is just as destructive as meth or heroin.
If your teen is misusing gateway drugs, teen drug abuse treatment can help them get back on track before they begin experiencing the many long-term adverse effects of addiction.
Teen Drug Abuse Treatment at Foothills at Red Oak Recovery
Teens often claim they’re not addicted to gateway drugs and could stop if they wanted to—until they realize they can’t.
Teens risk legal issues as well as physical, mental, and emotional effects when they use any type of mind-altering substance. Getting professional support from a teen treatment center is the best way to help your teen understand the serious long-term consequences of using any drug, gateway drugs included.