Drug addiction is not caused by one single factor; there are many reasons individuals abuse drugs or become addicted. Many people believe that marijuana is a gateway drug. While countless teenagers try chemical substances such as alcohol or marijuana while they are in high school, very few of them will develop addictions to these substances. This is contrary to popular belief that marijuana causes many to try hard drugs such as cocaine or heroin.

Addiction affects people in different ways, and while some can drink alcohol or smoke marijuana in moderation, others will progress to substance abuse and eventual addiction. Anti-drug campaigners are of the opinion that those who smoke marijuana are more likely to try drugs such as heroin.


Nevertheless, a new study states that marijuana is not a gateway drug to harder drugs. The report found that after careful analysis of charts covering decades of drug use in the States, the belief that marijuana leads individuals to use harder drugs is simply not true.

Patterns of drug use are recorded on the Brian C Bennett Drug Charts, and with over forty years’ worth of data available, there is no evidence to suggest that marijuana is a gateway drug. Director of Rice University’s Baker Institute for Drug Policy Programme, William Martin, said, “Marijuana’s reputation as a ‘gateway’ drug is not supported, even for more marijuana use. More than half of respondents under 60 have used it during their lifetime, but fewer than 10 per cent use it regularly.”

The data also showed that only 0.6 per cent of marijuana users progress to cocaine, with 0.2 per cent moving on to heroin or amphetamines.

Mr Martin added, “Alcohol causes far more personal and social damage than any other drug. Illegal drugs comprise less than 20 per cent of substance-use disorders in the US.”

The Dangers of Alcohol Abuse

It is hard for most people to comprehend the fact that alcohol could be considered more dangerous than illegal drugs such as heroin or marijuana. The reason for this is that alcohol is a legal substance actively encouraged in modern society.

Alcohol consumption is a social activity, one to be enjoyed with family and friends, so the idea that it is dangerous is hard for most people to get their heads around.

Nevertheless, the reality is that alcohol is linked to hundreds of mental and physical health conditions. It can cause obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, depression, dementia and some forms of cancer. In fact, Public Health England published a report in January 2016 stating that there is actually no safe level of alcohol consumption that would protect against certain health problems such as cancer and dementia.

Marijuana vs Alcohol

Many people are of the opinion that marijuana should be legalised because it is harmless, but this is not true. As with other illegal drugs, marijuana is addictive and can cause health problems. Despite the drug being legalised in some American states, it is still illegal here in the UK – and there are no plans to legalise it anytime soon.

Alcohol, on the other hand, is widely available in the UK and is considered by many to be completely safe, despite the fact that it is a highly addictive mood-altering substance. Alcoholism is responsible for thousands of deaths every year and places a huge burden on the entire economy. Yet still people continue to abuse this substance, and many are drinking far more than the recommended weekly amount guidance of fourteen units.

Both marijuana and alcohol are mood-altering substances capable of causing addiction and subsequent harm to those affected as well as their families. The primary difference is that one is legal and the other is not.


  1.  Weed isn’t actually a gateway drug – scientists say – and alcohol is much worse (Metro.co.uk)