By  for The Conversation. There is only one certainty about drugs – if you don’t use them, you won’t get addicted. Everything else we know about how and why people develop problems with drugs remains uncertain or at least up for debate.

Forty years ago, the gateway theory of drugs emerged and is still widely quoted today. This hypothesis proposes there are a series of stages to drug use that start with legal “soft” drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, which then lead on to the use of an illicit drug, typically cannabis.

Many people experiment with drugs such as tobacco, alcohol and cannabis during their adolescent years. For some, buying cannabis from a dealer who supplies other drugs can be an access point that might lead them on to using other drugs, such as heroin. In that sense, cannabis use could be a viewed as a gateway to other drugs.

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