I am ashamed to admit that I knew Shane* was using drugs (he rarely drank) for years before I ever took any action or got honest with myself about his addiction to drugs.  I recall Shane smoking pot around 13 years old and I specifically remember telling myself that at least he is only smoking pot, which I convinced myself at the time was the LESSER OF THE EVILS.  It seemed to me that all young people were smoking pot, therefore I justified it in my mind that there was no harm in it, as long as it was pot and nothing else.
The New Life House recovery community asked Dr. Noelle Rodriguez what her thoughts were on “gateway drugs.”  Here is what she had to say: Any drug that becomes habitual in use could potentially be a "gateway drug.”  Someone who has addictive behavior, who is genetically pre-disposed to addiction, mental disorders, victims of violent abuse/exposure are at highest risk for substance abuse that can lead to addiction.