Alcohol: The Ultimate Gateway Drug

Alcohol is a drug. When I learned this, I had a complete shift in perspective. The more I work with people, the more I understand why it is categorized as a drug.

Given how pervasive and socially acceptable (and encouraged) alcohol consumption is, it can be difficult to see alcohol as the truly harmful substance that it is. While cannabis has historically been deemed “the gateway drug,” study after study proves otherwise.

In my professional life, I continuously hear clients’ own experiences with alcohol and how quickly and often this drug becomes a stepping stone for harder drugs and very risky social behaviour.

I wonder how many people’s lives are taken every day due to drunk driving, how many people’s marriages are ruined because of alcohol addiction, and how many youth mix up cocaine with alcohol once they pass the point of no return (being drunk).

Perhaps alcohol wouldn’t be so scary if it wasn’t literally everywhere in our society!

Alcohol is Heavily Engrained in Society

Movies, TV shows, and social media continuously feature and glorify alcohol use. A quick walk in the neighbourhood reveals bars and pubs as well as liquor stores in full display, ever attractive to those who have no real emotional support in their lives. Talk about preying on the weak.

man passed out on couch due to alcohol

I remember liquor stores being open during the Covid lockdowns. What does that say about our priorities (and addictions!) as a society?

Alcohol has immense power in reducing our inhibitions along with eliminating our common sense. Once we aren’t connected with ourselves, we are likely to engage in behaviours we wouldn’t normally engage in. This includes where we go when we are drunk as well as what we do and with whom.

Alcohol Dependency is More Common Than You Think

Alcohol dependency is so common that we would rather normalize it and never talk about it as a society. Let’s ask ourselves the big questions.

What am I trying to numb within me through my alcohol use? What does alcohol seem to “solve” however short-lived the relief is? Part of saying “no” to alcohol is learning to say “no” to both peer pressure and to social brainwashing. And this is not easy.

Think deeply about alcohol’s role in your life. There are many who suggest a life of complete sobriety is a great option. Others think drinking on rare occasions is not a problem. I believe this depends completely on whether or not you have a history of alcohol addiction.

man sitting with glass of alcohol

For a lot of people, their mind-body system cannot go back to a substance once they’ve used it in an addictive way even if this was 20 years ago. In these cases, it may be much better to simply not take the risk by going fully sober.

Begin to see alcohol as the dangerous liquid that it is and you will perceive its danger more and more clearly as time goes on. Alcohol is perhaps the most socially accepted addiction we have in our society. Don’t underestimate its power. 

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Sunshine Coast Health Centre is a world-class centre for addiction treatment and mental health. We take an approach that recognizes the importance of the physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of individuals in treatment and recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use and PTSD, give us a call today.

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