“There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs,” states the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. The Institute goes on to assert that underage smoking and alcohol use seem to better fit the profile of gateway drugs. The Institute points out that nicotine and alcohol typically precede marijuana use. This may be true by virtue of the fact that cigarettes and beer are often easier to obtain than marijuana.
Dependence is defined as an adaptive state that develops in response to repeated drug administration, and is unmasked during withdrawal, which occurs when drug taking stops. Dependence from long-term drug use may have both a somatic component, manifested by physical symptoms, and an emotional–motivation component, manifested by dysphoria. While physical dependence and withdrawal occur with some drugs of abuse (opiates, ethanol), these phenomena are not useful in the diagnosis of addiction because they do not occur with other drugs of abuse (cocaine, amphetamine) and can occur with many drugs that are not abused (propranolol, clonidine).
Getting alcohol out of the addicted person’s system is the first part of recovery. People with a severe alcohol addiction can experience intense withdrawal symptoms. A supervised alcohol detox is usually necessary for people addicted to alcohol to prevent potentially fatal complications. Shaking, sweating, seizures, and hallucinations are possible alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Woman Turns to Rehab After Struggling With Drugs, Alcohol: Part 1