Sober living

Is Alcohol a Gateway Drug? FHE Heath

Caffeine is a bitter substance that occurs naturally in more than 60 plants, including coffee beans, tea leaves, kola nuts (used to flavor soft-drink colas), and cacao pods (used to make chocolate products). In addition, synthetic (man-made) caffeine is added to some medicines, foods, and drinks. For example, some pain relievers, cold medicines, and over-the-counter medicines for alertness contain synthetic caffeine, as do energy drinks, energy-boosting gums, and snacks (Medline Plus, 2021). Even though the gateway hypothesis has been around since the 1970s, more recent discoveries about the science of the brain and addiction support it. In particular, the brain does not finish developing until the mid-20s and is very susceptible to chemicals that disrupt that development. Some studies show a relationship between early alcohol use and later drug use.

The placenta grows in the uterus (womb) and supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Drinking any amount of alcohol at any time during pregnancy can harm a baby’s developing brain and other organs. No amount of alcohol has been proven safe at any time during pregnancy (March of Dimes, n. d.). Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) laws specify the legal age at which an individual can purchase alcoholic beverages.

  1. One study on the gateway drug phenomenon found unequivocally that alcohol represented the reality of a gateway drug.
  2. Another study of American 12th-graders singled out alcohol as the No. 1 gateway drug.
  3. Therefore, most addiction studies have been performed by observing groups of people over time and looking for possible links.
  4. The gateway drugs increased the opportunity for progressive drug use, rather than just because of brain changes.
  5. Seeking help for addiction may feel daunting or even scary, but several organizations can provide support.

These natural chemicals play a role in normal brain development and function. Marijuana over activates parts of the brain that contain the highest number of these receptors. The activation of brain 100 most inspiring addiction recovery quotes receptors causes the “high” that people feel (NIDA, Marijuana drugFacts, 2019). Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the cannabis sativa or cannabis indica plant.


This article will look at the science behind substance use to discover whether alcohol is a gateway drug. Regardless of the type of support system, it’s helpful to get involved in at least one when getting sober. Sober communities can help someone struggling with alcohol addiction deal with the challenges of sobriety in day-to-day life.

You should also consider attending a local AA meeting or participating in a self-help program such as Women for Sobriety. You may need to seek treatment at an inpatient facility if your addiction to alcohol is severe. These facilities will provide you with 24-hour care as you withdraw from alcohol and recover from your addiction.

Alcoholics anonymous and other support groups

Symptoms of ethanol overdose may include nausea, vomiting, CNS depression, coma, acute respiratory failure, or death. Levels of even less than 0.1% can cause intoxication, with unconsciousness often occurring at 0.3–0.4%.[69] Death from ethanol consumption is possible when blood alcohol levels reach 0.4%. The oral median lethal dose (LD50) of ethanol in rats is 5,628 mg/kg. Directly translated to human beings, this would mean that if a person who weighs 70 kg (150 lb) drank a 500 mL (17 US fl oz) glass of pure ethanol, they would theoretically have a 50% risk of dying. The health risks of alcohol tend to be dose-dependent, and the likelihood of certain harms, such as cancer, begin at relatively low amounts.5 Even drinking within the U.S.

Other Gateway Drugs

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that teens who use gateway drugs are 266 times more likely to develop a cocaine addiction than those who do not. Overall, drug use behavior is caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors. A person’s genetic makeup, family history, living environment and community affect their likelihood of trying drugs.

Standard drink

As well, their adverse health effects add together, meaning that cancer and other health risks are increased beyond those of either drug separately. A person may need additional help and support to treat alcohol or substance misuse. Local community groups, programs, and support networks are available for those who wish to seek help. Due to this, it is hard to say whether alcohol is a gateway drug in the sense that it causes someone to try other drugs, as the causes could be due to environmental or social factors. A 2015 study found that, out of a sample of U.S. 12th-graders, those who started using alcohol in sixth grade reported using more illegal drugs more often than those who started using alcohol in ninth grade or later.

After a person uses nicotine, they may experience increased alertness, ability to focus, feelings of relaxation, and light-headedness. The individual may experience short-term enjoyment from the nicotine in tobacco. As a loved one of someone with an alcohol addiction, try to be encouraging and provide emotional support. If you’re worried that someone you know has an alcohol addiction, it’s best to approach them in a supportive way.

Schedule I substances are considered to have a high potential for dependency and no accepted medical use, making distribution of marijuana a federal offense. In October of 2009, the Obama Administration sent a memo to federal prosecutors encouraging them not to prosecute people who distribute marijuana for medical purposes legally permissible under state law. Many individuals can why alcohol makes you feel warm drink alcohol in moderation and have no problem stopping. Other individuals may find themselves engaging in misuse and overuse related to social events. The amount of caffeine in energy drinks can vary widely, and sometimes the labels on the drinks do not give you the actual amount of caffeine in them. Energy drinks may also contain sugars, vitamins, herbs, and supplements.

Complications affecting multiple body systems

Breastfeeding women must also be aware that alcohol and other substances can be passed to their breastfed infant. For most people, it is not harmful to consume up to 400mg of caffeine a day. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than others. Explore this chart from Mayo Clinic to calculate your personal caffeine consumption. “Positive and negative effects of alcohol[…] mechanistic review.” Neurotoxin Research, January 2012. Griffin, Edmund; Melas, Philippe; Zhou, Royce; et al. “Prior alcohol use increases vulnerabilit[…] of HDAC4 and HDAC5.” Science Advances, November 1, 2017.

Marijuana, alcohol, nicotine and other gateway drugs boost dopamine levels, which increases pleasure. The dopamine boost caused by gateway drugs during adolescence makes the should you go back to rehab after a relapse brain release less dopamine during adulthood. This leads people to seek harder drugs that cause more dramatic dopamine releases, according to the gateway drug theory.

What Are Common Gateway Drugs?

When you drink too much, your liver has a harder time filtering the alcohol and other toxins from your bloodstream. Typically, a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder doesn’t require any other type of diagnostic test. There’s a chance your doctor may order blood work to check your liver function if you show signs or symptoms of liver disease. Prolonged heavy consumption of alcohol can cause significant permanent damage to the brain and other organs, resulting in dysfunction or death.

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