Those who grew up with anti-drug programs in school probably heard a lot of references to “gateway” drugs, most of which centered around the use of marijuana. The idea was simply that someone who thought of marijuana as a harmless way to have fun would slowly become involved in harder drugs, which could be highly addictive and more dangerous. Thus, students were often warned about more “minor” drugs as if they had the same potential end issues as hard drugs like heroin and cocaine.
But did these programs miss the real gateway drugs? There is evidence to show that prescription painkillers can turn into gateway drugs due to how incredibly addictive they are.
For instance, the government reported that people who have abused prescription opioids, or who have even become dependent on them, are 40 times as likely to abuse or become dependent on heroin. Keep in mind that they’re not just talking about using heroin or trying it; they’re talking about abuse and addiction. Logically, the odds of simply using it are even higher since not all those who use heroin become dependent on it.
Statistics like this certainly paint opioids as the real gateway drugs, especially because they are entirely legal in a medical context. If you have surgery and get a prescription, you can pick the medication up at the pharmacy. If you then become addicted to it as you recover, you may not be able to stop when your prescription runs out. This dependency can lead you to try other drugs, like heroin, as you seek the same results.
In a situation like this, the drug abuse may be almost entirely out of your hands. You don’t want to use heroin, you don’t want to break the law and you don’t want to struggle with addiction. Unfortunately, the doctors gave you an addictive substance and instructed you to take it, and that started this whole downward spiral into a life that you never imagined for yourself.
If you find yourself facing serious legal charges as a result of all of this, it’s critical to know what rights and options you have.