A number of studies have been identified 3 basic truths.
1. That the use of the so called harder illegal drugs is typically preceded in the user's drug use career by cannabis.
2. The earlier that cannabis is used, the more likely it will be that a person will use other harder drugs.
3. The higher the frequency of early cannabis use, the more likely it will be that a person will later use other harder illegal drugs.
These 3 truths are clear enough from the research evidence an have led to the proposal that cannabis acts as a getway to later hard drug use.
This type of research needs to be carefully examined and understood because an alternative possible explanation of this apparent relationship between cannabis use and other durg use can be also be proposed.
A person may have inherited a genetic predisposition to become drug using from one or both of their parents.
The evidence suggests strongly that such a predisposition can be passed from one generation to the next. It can also be argued that a person's living circumstances can lead to a person to seek some form of escape through the use of mind altering drugs.
Living in an area where drug use is commonplace or the norm where the whole rang is cheap and easily available on the streets can make it much more difficult for a younger person to resist using illegal drugs.
The difference in availability and price between cannabis other more costly illegal drugs means that it is highly likely that its use will precede other drug use, indeed the use of cannabis itself will almost always be preceded by alcohol and tobacco use.
The order effect is simply explained by the normal way in which any human activity progresses, starting at the lowest end and working upwards.
In a study using US survey data of young peoples' drug use researchers examined the role of cannabis as a precursor of other drug use through the use of a sophisicated mathematical model of the data.
They came to the conclusion that s propensity to drug use, however is a far stronger and more comprehensive of the order, early start and higher frequency effects than any other.
The casual relationship explanation proposes that there is something in cannabis use that predisposes the user to move on to other more serious drugs. That evidence suggests that while cannabis does not act to predispose the user to further drug use, the act of using.
Cannabinoids such as THC cannabis seeds along with the most of the drugs of misuse such as alcohol, nicotine, opiates and cocaine have been shown to act on the system of brain structures within the human brain that are all connected together by a neural pathway called the medical forebrain bundle.
The stimulation of the reward pathway by drug use can lead to very intense feelings of well-being and pleasure and lead to it being commandeered by drug use so that other dopamine producing behaviours become less important.
The evidence is an addictive drug in the sense of that its use has the potential to lead to a true physical or psychological dependence upon its further use?
The accepted wisdom has been that cannabis does not lead to any form of physical dependency. This can no longer be claimed as a growing body of evidence begins to demonstrate the existence of a clear cannabis withdraw syndrome.
A syndrome demonstrates that the use of cannabis has led to an alteration in bodily function which in turn leads to a series of clinically significant symptoms.
The symptoms of cannabis withdrawal are restlessness irritability, agitation, anxiety, dreams, nausea, cramping and cravings of cannabis.
The common liability theory. The theory suggests that certain individuals, by virtue of both nature and nurture, are more likely than others to become addicted to drugs.
Addiction itself is the ‘disease’. This argument is twofold, for it also explains why many people who use so-called gateway drugs like cannabis do not become addicted, and do not move on to further substance abuse and harder drugs.
There can be a sequence in which taking cannabis can be a precursor to other drugs, but it is by no means inevitable and multiple factors contribute. In fact, friendship groups, poverty and mental illness are all stronger predictors of drug use – there are significant social causes that can influence and ultimately lead to addiction and the use of hard drugs, unrelated to the initial use of cannabis. Ultimately, association does not necessarily mean causation, casting serious doubts over the simplistic nature of the Gateway Drug Theory.
There are tons of myths surrounding cannabis, some of which suggest cannabis is more dangerous than it is, while others downplay certain risks. Other reinforce harmful stigmas and stereotypes.
When it comes to using cannabis, your best bet is to do your own research first and consider the sources of the information you find.
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