Is Nicotine a Gateway Drug?
Yes, it’s only cigarettes—for now. Scientists have known for a long time that smoking cigarettes increases the risk for marijuana and cocaine addiction. Recent studies are opening more eyes.
Nicotine and Marijuana
Studies show that people who smoke cigarettes will probably end up smoking marijuana. Also, college students who smoke both tobacco and marijuana are more likely to smoke a greater amount of tobacco.
One recent study included 315 incoming college students. The researchers asked them if they had ever smoked tobacco or marijuana in their life and in the past month. Results showed that 104 students had smoked cigarettes at some point and almost half of them currently smoke. Also, students who smoked tobacco were more likely to use marijuana than those who didn’t smoke tobacco.
The researchers studied the students again at the end of their freshman year. They found that 66 percent of students who smoked tobacco before entering college still used. About half of them said that they were also smoking marijuana. These students smoked more tobacco per month than those who smoked only tobacco.
Nicotine and Cocaine
Other studies and surveys show links between nicotine and cocaine. A national survey reported that over 90 percent of cocaine users between 18 and 34 years old had a history of smoking cigarettes.
In a study, scientists gave mice nicotine before and during exposure to cocaine. The nicotine-treated mice were 78 percent more likely to express behaviors showing cocaine preference than mice who didn’t get nicotine. However, giving the mice cocaine first did not increase their craving for nicotine.
Are you hooked on cigarettes but don’t want to risk getting addicted to marijuana or cocaine? Try nicotine replacement therapy, like patches or gums, to wean yourself off nicotine. Are you currently addicted to cocaine or marijuana? Lakeview Health Systems can help you beat the addiction.
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