Nicotine – The Dark Side!
A recent study revealed the dark side of nicotine – the stimulant primes your brain to accept cocaine! The active stimulant found in tobacco acts like a potent “gateway” drug which increases the cocaine effects. Also, nicotine possibly enhances your chances of becoming an addict, according to the team of researchers who presented their astonishing paper on drug addiction.
A Grim Reality!
Even though the study was conducted on mice, the study revelations indicate that minimizing smoking and use of any other tobacco products – including exposure to secondhand smoke and nicotine replacement products – in humans can induce a bilateral impact of lessening addiction to any other addictive products.
The study authors said that if the findings in mice can be applied to humans, then a fall in smoking rates in young people could be predicted to cause a fall in cocaine addiction as well.
About the ‘Grim’ Study.
The team of researchers at Columbia University in New York was led by Dr. Amir Levine. They treated the lab mice with nicotine and then later exposed the mice to cocaine.
It was observed that the mice whose brains had assimilated nicotine actually responded to cocaine – these mice exhibited more characteristics of cocaine addiction – when compared with the mice that were not exposed to nicotine in the first place
When the order of the drugs was reversed – exposing the mice to cocaine first instead of nicotine – no effects were observed on the overall behavior.
Additionally, the astonishing study even showed that nicotine easily influence substances known as histone proteins, which are located in the brain’s reward center. This reward center in turn stimulates certain genes and causes an exaggerated, active response to cocaine.
Nicotine and Cocaine – The Sweet Intoxication!
Even though the research raises several questions and needs to be confirmed, its implications are profound and numerous, like whether lowered nicotine usage would minimize the rates of numerous other substance addictions.
Levine and his team of researchers studied data about cocaine use and addiction among some high school students in a related analysis. The study authors discovered that nearly 81% of the adolescents who were regular cocaine users became addicted after a month when they started smoking tobacco actively
Also, they discovered that only 18.8% actually used cocaine when they were not actively smoking.
The ‘Potent’ Conclusion
The study’s authors note that nicotine addiction treatment can aid in promoting even cocaine addiction recovery. In recent times, several people in substance-abuse recovery programs who even smoke tobacco are being prescribed nicotine replacement products in order to quit smoking altogether.
But here is one important point which must not be dismissed – if nicotine is enhancing cocaine addiction, then behavioral smoking cessation programs can be more beneficial and appropriate.
Now, here is the crux of the study – do the findings of this particular study can be applied to other ‘intoxicating’ drugs? It is still not evident if the ‘potent’ relationship is specific to cocaine and nicotine or whether marijuana and alcohol – substances which are also known as gateway drugs as they are usually used before experimenting with several other drugs – enhance the risk of addiction also.
The scientific papers are published in the journal, Science Translational Medicine.