News / Health

    Nicotine Enhances Effects of Cocaine

    Study highlights tobacco's role as 'gateway' drug

    If you start smoking before you try cocaine, you are much more likely to become addicted to cocaine, according to new research.
    If you start smoking before you try cocaine, you are much more likely to become addicted to cocaine, according to new research.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Art Chimes

    A new study from Columbia University highlights the role of tobacco in cocaine addiction. The research indicates that nicotine may be a key "gateway" drug in a biological as well as a social context.

    Dr. Amir Levine says there is some support for the gateway hypothesis, that adolescents begin drug use with alcohol and nicotine, then advance to marijuana and more serious drugs.

    "And then we were wondering whether that sequence, apart from having cigarettes more available and alcohol more available, whether there was also a biological effect of these drugs on other drugs later on down the line."

    To find an answer, Levine and his colleagues used laboratory mice, and added nicotine to their water. Then they injected the mice with cocaine and compared their behaviors with drugged mice that had not gotten the nicotine.

    "And what we found was, that when they were treated with nicotine first, the effect - their behavioral effects - were much more pronounced when they were given cocaine."

    And Levine says researchers saw that effect even with very small amounts of nicotine.

    Co-author and Nobel laureate Dr. Eric Kandel, adds that nicotine dramatically increases the effect of cocaine.

    "And it sort of makes a little bit of sense, why people start with nicotine and then go on to cocaine. Because if they're smoking nicotine and they begin with cocaine, they get a wow!"

    Nicotine has a direct effect on DNA, Amir Levine explains, essentially exposing genes that are linked to addiction.

    "So then, when you give cocaine, certain genes that are involved in addiction are greatly expressed, much more than if you give cocaine by itself."

    For real-world confirmation, another co-author, Denise Kandel, - Eric Kandel's wife - reviewed a 1992 study of cocaine users. "And she saw that if you started smoking before you started cocaine, you are much more likely to become addicted to cocaine."

    On the other hand, those who used cocaine but hadn't smoked before were less likely to become addicted.

    Co-author Eric Kandel says a deeper understanding of the biological process of addiction may lead to more effective treatments.

    "The molecular insights that we're getting - and we plan to refine - should allow us to think about new approaches to therapy."

    Writing in Science Translational Medicine, the authors also say their research emphasizes the need for more effective anti-smoking programs, especially targeted toward young people.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora