How do we understand drug use? How are drugs related to our social worlds? How should drug use be understood, approached and dealt with? Insightful and illuminating, this book successfully discusses drugs in social contexts. In an elegant manner, the authors bring together their different theoretical and practical backgrounds, offering a comprehensive and interdisciplinary introduction that opens up a wide scientific understanding moving beyond cultural myths and presuppositions. Powerful and engaging, this book discusses main questions within the field of psychoactive drugs research, such as: Why do people take drugs? How do we understand moral panics? What is the relationship between drugs and violence? How do people's social positions influence their individual involvement in drug use? This is an invaluable reference source for students on criminology, sociology and social sciences programmes, as well as students and drug service practitioners in social work, social policy and nursing.
Chapter 19: The Gateway Hypothesis/Stepping Stone Theory
The gateway hypothesis suggests that the use of ‘soft’ drugs, particularly cannabis, causes a progression to ‘hard’ drugs, such as opiates and cocaine. It is suggested that this progression is the result of either pharmacological changes in brain functioning leading to a desire for stronger drugs; or drug markets increasing opportunities to access a wider range of drugs. Critics contend that there can be associations between the use of different drugs without there being a necessary upward causal relationship and that there are many other reasons for drug use. Although most people that have used heroin have prior experience of cannabis, most people that have used cannabis do not go on to use heroin.
[Page 96]The gateway ...