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Does smoking lead to other drugs?
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Does smoking lead to other drugs?

I have a question about those who smoke tobacco, and it is more for non-scientific research than anything else.  For those of you who smoke(d) tobacco, did you move on to other illegal substances such as marijuana?  If so, do you think that smoking was the catalyst?  I am a prevention specialist and I believe in the gateway drug theory, however, I'm curious to see how accurate the theory is.

Thanx in advance,
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Avatar_f_tn
no. I smoked a bit of weed in my teens (cuz everyone was) and I'm right now dealing with a dependency to pain killers (cuz I needed them after a very bad illness and 3 surgeries) but they're totally unrelated to my smoking. I quit smoking in Jan 05.
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503422_tn?1218560541
Congrats on quitting.  I think that the gateway theory does hold some water, but I don't think that it's all inclusive or is absolute.  I think there are many other factors, i.e., surgery, or genetics, that drive addiction.

I started chewing tobacco when I was in 5th grade and quit when I was in Egypt while in the military.  I've never done illegal drugs, but did a lot of drinking when younger.  

I'm just curious, and thank you for your feedback.
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326505_tn?1304172825
I think that for most who began smoking young, it was a gateway drug. Peer pressure or "looking cool" was the reason that most teens give/gave for beginning and I'm sure those same reasons were the catalyst for pot and further experimentation. I am a product of the 60-70's as were my two drug addicted brothers. One lived to tell the tale but the other wasn't so lucky.
It is my sincere belief that it is absolutely a gateway to bigger things, this opinion has been my own experience.
Kathy Jo
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503422_tn?1218560541
Thank you for your input.  I have a lot of people who vehemently argue against the gateway theory.  I'm not saying I think that it's absolute, I just think that when a kid starts smoking cigs, they tend to get that "big chested" mature feeling.  The mentality is "Hell, if you're willing to do something like smoking cigs, then you're big enough to do other drugs."  I also think that many kids believe they are bulletproof.  I was giving a presentation to an 8th grade class recently and I was talking about inhalant abuse.  I was talking about how you can die from inhalant abuse and the kids were almost comatose.   When I talked about the side effects, one of which is involuntary passing of urine or feces, the kids freaked out.  One girl said she would rather die than poop her pants.  Amazing.  

I tell kids that in 20 years, meth could be a gateway drug; I hope not.  I'm sure there will always be an excuse for using drugs, but I think we need to continue to help these kids stay away from these substances to give them a better chance at success.

I'm very sorry to hear about your brother . . .
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242912_tn?1402547092
I'm not sure if "gateway" would be the correct term.  I think we all start smoking cigarettes in our teens because we are looking for a way to deal with our stress, depression or anxiety.  These issues are not usually addressed when we're kids so it seems a natural progression for other drugs to follow because eventually, the cigarette is not enough.  

Of course, like Kathyjo said, a LOT of teens start smoking because of peer pressure, but I would make a bet that the teen that started smoking for that reason was fairly unhappy to begin with.  But, then again, I realize not every stressed out teen starts smoking.  My 19yr old niece has never smoked and she has grown up under a tremendous amount of stress in the home.  
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242912_tn?1402547092
Lol, I think I just described the cigarette as a "gateway" drug.  I just woke up....not thinking straight yet.  

I better go get some coffee....
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Avatar_f_tn
Well, for me, I started smoking in 1976 when I was 12...but I'd tried pot 1st. I personally don't think cigarettes lead to other drugs...I think being a stupid kid leads to doing stupid things whether it be smoking weed, smoking cigarettes or drinking cheap red wine till you puke it all over your friends bedroom floor (yeah...that was me). I wasn't quite as stupid as some of my friends and I never tried acid or cocaine...but some of my friends who did those things didn't smoke either. I think the problem is more of an "I'm invincible and I can do anything and never get hurt" attitude that all kids have. Plus, it's a game of follow the leader. If one does it then they all do it.

Everyone is different and everyone has a different experience but whether I'd ever smoked or not it wouldn't have made a difference to my doing other stupid things. I can say the same for the group of kids I hung out with back then. We just did what we did cuz we were kids and kids can be dumb like that.
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503422_tn?1218560541
Well, here is what I'm looking for and I hope I can find it here.  My job is to help kids stay away from drugs.  You bring up great points about peer pressure and feelings.  How do you think we should approach drug prevention with these kids?  

Kids don't want to be preached to; they get enough of that already.  So how can we, as a community, affect these kids.  Do you think real-life examples will help?

Just curious.
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326505_tn?1304172825
I have 2 children. My son is 22 & my daughter is 19. My son has (in the past) experimented with some drugs and we talk openly about it. He knew about both of his uncles (my brothers) and many of his dad's cousins who have had alchohol and drug problems, but this didn't seem to phase him. He did what he wanted.
Canuckchick hit the nail on the head when she stated that kids believe they are invincible........half the things I did as a kid were so stupid and I cringe when I think about it : )
My daughter doesn't seem to be interested in the party atmosphere yet, but she will be going away to college.. Hopefully I have given her the tools to make good/right choices.

I believe strongly in learning through others mistakes. It worked for me.....kept me in line, but neither of my brothers seem to appreciate their older sister (me) relating horror stories that I had lived through....friends over-dosing and some dying.

What helped me quit smoking tobacco was the incessant commercials being shown on t.v. about the many things that could and will happen to a smoker. Very graphic and relentless! NYC is really coming out strong against smoking & smokers. They offer free gum or patches, whatever way you chose, as long as you chose to : )
I was so stressed by the man with the hole in his throat, the woman who lost fingers, the man that lost his leg, the lungs of a cadaver and the children who lost their parent to cancer.
Maybe it worked on me because I am older, but it worked and I am grateful : )

I feel your concern for their welfare and perhaps that will help convey your sincerity to these kids. Sometimes just knowing that someone cares, can make all the difference. Good luck!
Kathy Jo
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268698_tn?1222557484
I started smoking in my teens also, smoked for 10 years. I definitly don't think smoking could lead to other drugs, I've smoked pot a few times in my life and yes I have experimented with other illegal drugs when i was younger, call it my wild days. Anyway I don't believe I did those drugs because I was smoking cigarettes. Most my friends who did drugs when we went out weren't even cigarette smokers. So I don't believe that theory. I do thank God however I never became addicted to any of those drugs I did. Smoking was a hard habit to break I couldn't imagine coming off of a drug addiction.
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242912_tn?1402547092
I should have started my earlier post out with "in my experience."  I see it looks like I think ALL teens begin smoking due to stress which I know is not true.    

I should have waited until I was more awake before posting this morning. : )

Sorry all.....Lol.....I screwed up my post in more ways than one, didn't I.
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503422_tn?1218560541
Thank you for  your feedback.  Even though I'm so headstrong, I will incorporate your input into my presentations.  I feel it important to give as  many points of view as possible.  I still think that tobacco is a gateway drug and this is based on the data that is out there.  On the whole, we find that very few people use drugs who didn't start out with tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana.  As I said previously, I know that does not mean that if a kid smokes a cigarette that they will be a crack addict.  It just means that they have a greater probability of moving on to harder drugs than someone who does not use one of the gateway drugs.

I think that many people tend to look at the gateway dug theory one dimensionally.  There are MANY factors that lead to drug use.  Right now, we're just trying to find the most common factor that leads to dug use.  Each person is different, and we find that people from all walks of life can start using drugs.  

Again, thank you and I'm always open to any suggestions for my  drug prevention presentations, so please don't hesitate to talk to me.  
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408662_tn?1210654333
       Your    Quote: (  As I said previously, I know that does not mean that if a kid smokes a cigarette that they will be a crack addict.  It just means that they have a greater probability of moving on to harder drugs than someone who does not use one of the gateway drugs.)

In a way you are correct, but it doesn't necessarily mean they will do illicit drugs.  But they will find something else, maybe stealing, sexual fantasy, and so forth to find a coping  skill, to relieve any anxiety, depression that they might carry.   Isn't
that  one of the main reasons why people start smoking?  They say , people who do smoke , the majority of them are depressed.  Most of these prescription drugs to help halt smoking are antidepressants.

I started smoking at the age of 15 with my best friend.  My parents or brothers never smoked. , only me.    Why?
My friend and I  got really bored one day,  and at that time, we were able to buy a pack , and went into the woods and stood there, smoking one cigarette after another.    Ha, Ha,  we probably turned greener than the grass.  Yet , at that time frame in life, we were bored with nothing to do, and kept at it for about a week until we got hooked.
You asked does it lead to other drugs?
No, ,  not if they find a coping mechanism to overcome the feelings that need to be worked out.,,  like "Stress", "Depression", "Low Self Esteem".

What happens when a baby cries?
We stick a pacifier in their mouths...  It's the same thing.  We all have something to comfort us.  Whether it be ' Ice-Cream", , most people use food..  or some other form of
finding a " Comfort Zone".

To be honest with you?  I haven't yet found anything to replace my comfort zone of cigarettes.,,  except for going on the computer.
That's my get away.

Ha, Ha,  maybe I should just buy a pacifier.   It might work better than Chantix.
That's why some people use lolipops... but that's too sweet for me.

Cheers!
  
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408662_tn?1210654333
Sorry VOR,.,,   got sidetracked.

The Point Is,,  everyone needs to find That Comfort Zone, in any way, form or matter, to

Overcome  any   Negative Feeling.
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503422_tn?1218560541
And a pacifier is sooooo much less expensive than Chantix :o)  But be careful, someone might mistake you for using ecstasy LOL!!

I see your points.  I do believe that use of "gateway drugs" does show a disposition to other risky behaviors.  You wouldn't use them in the first place if you didn't already have the tendency for risky behavior.  But there are studies (I know, beware of studies!!) that indicate a strong relationship between, say, tobacco and cocaine use.  When surveyed, an overwhelming number of cocaine users stated that the first drug of use was either tobacco, marijuana, or alcohol.  Only a very very small number of cocaine users did not smoke tobacco or use marijuana or alcohol before using cocaine.  Again, let me say that I don't think it's an absolute, but rather an indicator.

At the same time, I have some difficulty in taking the gateway drugs theory hook-line-and-sinker b/c there really is no way to definitively place a quantitative value on it.  We know, for example, that one of the leading factors in drug use is as you said, boredom . . . nothing to do.  Latchkey kids, who sit around and get bored.  What's the saying, "Idle hands are the Devil's workshop"?

I'm just trying to compile some non-scientific data to see if the theory can be supported.  I do have some people that come straight out and tell me that if they had never picked up a cigarette, they feel the probably would have never moved on to pot, then coke, then meth.  I do think it's different for each person.  

I appreciate all of your insight and feedback.  This helps me greatly in my job, so please don't hesitate to shout at me if you have more info to help.

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408662_tn?1210654333
I'm getting the idea and feeling that people who smoke are considered " the Low Class"
of people.
I wasn't raised low class, and neither were my kids.  They were typical kids who picked up the same habit as their parents.   " Coffee and cigarettes".  My kids had a normal life out in the suburbs.  They were into sports, raising animals, fishing and dirt bikes.  Never , never had a problem with them using drugs or drinking alcohol.  Nor foul mouth too.

I believe you may be talking about kids from the " Inner City" class.  Yes the lower class and less educated.   Those are the ones most influenced by taking on higher drugs.
If I raised my kids in the heart of NJ. where they where born,  yes they would have more influence on drugs.
Not because they smoked cigarettes.
Instead we chose to live   an  old fashion country style, in Pa.  And I am so grateful
we made that choice to raise them there.  The kids were different along with the schools.

It's where you live along with what "class" of people you hang with. That's how you determine if they will take on higher drugs.

There are many professional doctors who are on "Crack", but yet won't consider themselves in a" lower class" of people and won't  even touch cigarettes.
Maybe I should turn that one into a question for you.?
How about it?

I
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503422_tn?1218560541
I don't think there are very many people who subscribe to the idea that class is the only reason for drug use.  I think you may have misunderstood what I was saying.  I certainly do not believe this, nor have I ever said that poor people are more predisposed to using drugs.  Latchkey does not mean lower economic status.  It simply means that the parent(s) are not there when the kids get home after school or activities.  I'm sorry if what I said gave the indication that I think people of lower class status smoke.  Both of my parents smoked and we were not poor.  

Drugs affect all backgrounds, races, religions, financial classes.  I have been to many affluent schools where drugs are as much a problem as in inner city, less affluent schools.  In reality, the lower class and less educated are not the ones most influenced by taking on higher drugs as you said.

Yes, education does play a role in drug prevention, as much as role modeling by parents and community.  It's easy to say that someone from the inner city who is less educated is more likely to use drugs.  However, we see that drug use crosses all socioeconomic and education backgrounds.

I agree that there are many people who use harder drugs such as crack, yet never did or do not smoke.  I am saying, however, that the data indicates that if you smoke, you are more likely to use harder drugs than if you don't smoke.  This does not have anything to do with financial status or education.  

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228936_tn?1249097848
I started smoking at 15 and was a full blown addict by 20. I quit all the drugs several years ago but am still having problems with smoking. I quit late last year with the help of chantix but have slipped a few times but stopped once for 3 months. I started about a week ago and will smoke my last one later today and quit again and maybe this time not go back. I may be a bit disapointed, but have been able to quit for the first time in my life for several months which I could never do before and can do again.

I think that if a person smokes and is a ex addict/alcoholic, they have a greater chance of relapse if they smoke. I can't tell you why but I belive it and think all addicitions are interconnected. I also belive that smoking is a Gateway drug.
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Avatar_m_tn
For me it was the people or society I was around that lead me onto more than just smoking cigs. When I saw that people were having a more enjoyable time smoking weed, doing coke, x, lsd i wanted to enjoy it too so I did. Without seeing the enjoyment of these people when stimulated with these substances, drugs would of never crossed my mind.
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503422_tn?1218560541
I'm tracking.  But here is a follow-up question.  Do you think that you would have gone on to the other drugs if you had not started smoking cigs first?  Part of the gateway theory is that what leads to the use of other drugs is not just the nicotine, but also the idea that you are doing something that is dangerous or forbidden; taboo like.  So if you are man/woman enough to smoke cigs, then no one is going to tell you that you can't do something else.  This all goes hand-in-hand with the feelings derived from the drug, the need to fit in, and so on.  Does that make sense?

If someone realizes the inherent dangers of smoking, it's fair to say that they probably also understand the inherent dangers of other drugs.  And if they choose not to smoke, then it's more likely they won't use other harder drugs.  Again, this is not always the case.  I also agree that the people you hang around with play a significant role in what you will do.  The flip side though, is that there are many who are grow up in homes where drugs and alcohol are used frequently or they hang around others who use drugs, yet they themselves do not use those substances.
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228936_tn?1249097848
IF I NEVER SMOKED, I WOULDN'T HAVE BECOME A DRUG ADDICT. WHAT IS THIS FOR?
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503422_tn?1218560541
Not sure I understand your question.  Can/would you elaborate?
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228936_tn?1249097848
what is this information for, a study, a book, survey?
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503422_tn?1218560541
Study/survey.  I am a drug prevention specialist and I posted the question out of curiosity.  There are many who do not think that tobacco is a gateway drug.  I give a drug presentation called Gateway Drugs (alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and inhalants).  I tell kids about the dangers of using gateway drugs b/c of the possibility that these drugs can lead to the use of other stronger, more addictive drugs.

However, there are many who disagree.  Therefore, I wanted to get a variety of points-of-views from people in this forum.  That's all.
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228936_tn?1249097848
Yes tabacco was a gateway drug for me to being a junkie. all junkies smoke. No I'm an ex junkie and non smoker
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385161_tn?1270084818
Well I started smoking when I was 14 years old. Yep thought cigaretts were cool and most of my friends smoked so thats what I did as well. Did it lead me to try other drugs? I believe it did. One day one of my friends had a joint and said "smoke it like you smoke a cigarette only hold it in your lungs and hold your breath for as long as you can before exhaling". I said ok. The girl next to me was a non smoker she said no. She had never smoked a cigarette before and was scared to smoke pot and embarassed she didn't know how to smoke it "like a cigarette".  I would also speculate that when I was young and smoking regularly that I wasn't as afraid to try things because every adult says "smoking will make you sick, you wont' be able to run and your teeth will get yellow" well at 14 and such a young early smoker, none of those things were happening to me yet and didn't come until years and years later so it makes you think adults are full of **** therefore not listening to their warnings about other drugs. I also had several friends who got sick of cigaretts after a few weeks because they weren't getting that light headed feeling or buzz they got when they first started smoking because now they were hooked and smoked too regularly to feel it which prompted them to use other drugs to get that "high" feeling. Finally I had several friends who in their 20's decided they wanted to quit smoking and stupid as this may sound switched to pot, which is suppose to be "non addictive" and "doesn't cause cancer".  Oh yeah and I would have to say that pot is definately a gateway drug because you never know what they put in it so you can get hooked on something in the pot and then the person who gave it to ya says "oh did you like that pot and your like  ya" and so then they tell you it was laced with such and such and its available in its own form. Yes and then pot is a gateway drug because dealers and people who have pot, often have more drugs and when your already high and drunk your more likely to try other drugs at that time. Hope that helps you out.
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385161_tn?1270084818
Guess I got a bit sidetracked too...what i was trying to say was that cigaretts lead to pot use, pot leads to other more hardcore drugs and its all a vicious cycle. I can say out of all of the people I hung around with in school only one girl who didn't smoke cigs tried pot and she coughed so hard and hated it that she never did it again, while the rest of us "smokers" were getting high left and right and looking for our next high. I am NOT a drug addict lol. Just an addict of nicotine for which I now replace with a nicoderm cq patch sad to say. I wonder if it will ever end. I am lucky I never got addicted to pot or the other drugs i tried in my teens but feel like i would have had a much healthier life if i just listened to my parents and never smoked in the first place.

And I know its so hard to tell kids that mom and dad are often right when they tell ya not to try cigaretts or ever do drugs. Real life stories don't even phase them most of the time. Visual images do stick though they may not always prevent. I will never forget the pictures of the diseased lung they showed us in high school however I smoked anyways always knowing in the back of my mind that one day I would have to stop smoking and that day wouldn't be easy. I think what works best for kids is making it socially unacceptable to smoke. Really thats whats happening so much more today than it did when I started smoking. If we can raise awareness and make the habit "NOT COOL" and totally unacceptable socially (which is great with non smoking restaurant laws in my state and others, and smoke free school zones etc) I think it will help make kids find something better to do with their time and prevent the whole gateway drug problem.

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