The idea of “gateway drugs” has been a subject of controversy and ridicule for decades. It’s an argument aimed often at people who use marijuana and are told that pot leads to the use of “harder” drugs. It has also been a handy weapon to aim at teenagers who smoke tobacco. A new study suggests that researchers have found the first chemical evidence that there may be something to the theory. An epidemiologist and a neurobiologist at Columbia University led a team that found “epigenetic” changes in mice plied with nicotine. Those mice were far more likely to exhibit addictive behavior when given cocaine than were those not exposed to nicotine.
As is often the case with these sorts of study, the article does not make clear how much nicotine the mice were exposed to — were they massive doses or proportionate to a human smoker? Still, the article — from Nature.com — makes for interesting reading.