Gateway Hypothesis of Adolescent Substance Use

The gateway hypothesis (GH), identified most closely with sociologist Denise Kandel, contains several propositions that attempt to explain the etiology of illegal drug use. Its central thesis asserts that the onset of consumption of different types of abusable substances advances in orderly fashion, beginning with using drugs that are legal (for adults), specifically alcohol or tobacco, followed by marijuana smoking, which in turn segues to ingesting hard illegal drugs such as opioids and cocaine. Each type of drug, according to the GH, does not inevitably lead to using the next drug; however, it is theorized to constitute a distinct stage in a developmental sequence. Moreover, the drugs are stratified in a hierarchy according to their putative harmfulness, reflecting violation of social mores and laws ...

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