Is Alcohol the True Gateway Drug?

Marijuana, or cannabis, is often remarked to be a “gateway drug”. Legend has it that when one partakes in consuming cannabis and consequently gets “high” for the first time, the doors are opened wide to other drugs. Surely, many stories of recovery start that way. After trying marijuana, someone was curious to try other things. What makes an addict addicted, though, does not lie in the first time they smoked a little pot.

Though it may be comparing apples to oranges, alcohol is more harmful than marijuana. Plentiful research has shown that overall, alcohol has more damaging effect on an individual than marijuana. Both substances are known to lower social inhibitions. Alcohol and marijuana reduce cognitive functions in a way that lead to someone acting intoxicated. Part of that cognitive impairment includes decision making, and the ability to use good judgment. Ever notice how really brilliant ideas can happen while drunk on alcohol and also high on marijuana? They aren’t always the best ideas, or make any sense for that matter. Just like marijuana, alcohol opens you up to considering the use of other harmful substances that might feel good. Alcohol creates pleasure. When the brain learns to like pleasure, it seeks more of it.

Though marijuana is increasingly found in the average home, it is more difficult for a minor to find. Alcohol, however, is in almost every home. It is more likely for adults to have a liquor cabinet than a marijuana cabinet. Alcohol is legal, after all, and can be found in all kinds of establishments from pharmacies to wholesale stores.

Alcohol by the numbers

88,000 people die from alcohol related deaths each year in the United States. More money is spent on the advertising for the alcohol industry than any other marketing industry in the world. College towns, for example, have more bars per capita than any other type of community on the planet. The numbers for DUI’s, injuries or deaths are equally as startling. The fact of the matter is, we are completely disproportionate when it comes to the harm alcohol does versus the good. Thankfully, the community and industry of recovery is available to welcome those in need of help with open arms.


Refuge Recovery is open to those suffering from alcoholism, substance abuse and other emotional stresses. Our center in Los Angeles offers a safe, non-judgmental space; sacred for healing and transforming your life. For more information on our programs of treatment, call 323-207-0276

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