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Friday, September 5, 2014

Nicotine May Lead to Harder Drugs

It seems like every way you turn someone is puffing on an E-cigarette, devices which many argue are a much safer method of getting a nicotine fix as well as an effective tool for quitting smoking. The facts about e-cigarettes are not well known, little research has been conducted to date. However, some researchers suggest that e-cigarettes may increase the risk of addiction to cocaine and other drugs, reports the New England Journal of Medicine.

In 2012, among U.S. adults 18 to 34 years of age who had ever used cocaine, 87.9% had smoked cigarettes before using cocaine, 5.7% began using cigarettes and cocaine at the same time, 3.5% used cocaine first, and 2.9% had never smoked cigarettes, according to the journal. Such data leads wife-husband research team Denise and Eric Kandel, to believe that nicotine in any form may serve as a “gateway” drug. The team found the rate of cocaine dependence was highest among users who started using cocaine after having smoked cigarettes, according to Time.

“Nicotine acts as a gateway drug on the brain, and this effect is likely to occur whether the exposure is from smoking tobacco, passive tobacco smoke or e-cigarettes,” they said. “More effective prevention programs need to be developed for all the products that contain nicotine, especially those targeting young people. Our data suggest that effective interventions would not only prevent smoking and its negative health consequences but also decrease the risk of progressing to illicit drug use and addiction.”

The Kandel’s point out that a typical e-cigarette user is a long-term smoker who is unable to stop smoking, but e-cigarette use is increasing among teens and young adults. 

Parents should be weary of their teenagers using any nicotine delivery system like e-cigarettes. While the devices may be safer than traditional cigarettes, nicotine is without question one of the most addictive substances and one of the hardest to quit. Many factors will determine if one moves on from nicotine to harder substances, but it is better to be safe and abstinence is always encouraged.

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