Often when people think about gateway drugs, they imagine a series of more and more dangerous and damaging drugs and substances, one leading to the other in a progression, or a downward spiral really, from drug to drug, each one worse than the last. For example, most people imagine this slippery slope starting with tobacco and alcohol and leading to marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, among other types of drugs, synthetic or even prescription.
But the results of a new study flips this imagined progression on its head, suggesting that marijuana use can increase the risk for nicotine addiction down the road. It seems marijuana may be a gateway drug for tobacco, not the other way around. There is some anecdotal evidence that supports these findings. Some marijuana users have said that being stoned makes them fiend for a cigarette to a greater degree than they would sober. Other marijuana users have said that smoking marijuana makes stopping smoking more difficult.
The Study On Pot And Nicotine Addiction
The study, which involved mice in a lab setting, was quite complex. To begin with, the study involved dosing mice with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the active ingredient in marijuana—or a placebo over a period of several days. Researchers then attempted to teach these mice how to access nicotine through a small hole in their cage where it was injected into their blood stream each time they poked their noses through. Researchers hypothesized that the mice who learned quickly how to repeatedly access the nicotine—not all the mice did learn how—and who also sought out the nicotine portal with greater alacrity, did so because they were extra motivated by their addiction to nicotine.
It turns out that 95 percent of the mice who were given THC figured out how to obtain the nicotine and did so with greater frequency and more determination. Only 65 percent of the mice who had been given the placebo learned how to access the nicotine and those that did were not willing to work as hard for a dose of nicotine as were the THC mice. In short, the results showed that nicotine was more valuable to the THC mice and that the THC mice were more prone to addiction to nicotine than the placebo mice. Research that has been conducted in the past has failed to find this connection between marijuana use and tendency towards addiction to other drugs like cocaine and heroin. Researchers note that there may be many reasons—social factors mainly—that someone who smokes pot may be more likely to become addicted to nicotine.
Certainly this study needs corroboration from other studies and the relevance to humans needs to be more firmly established, but given what stoners have been saying for years about how pot makes them feel about cigarettes, this study establishes a pathway for new research.
What It Means
Given the serious health issues that can result from tobacco use—heart disease, lung cancer, and emphysema to name but a few—and given the fact that tobacco use has been and continues to be the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, these new findings are alarming for many people.
Many experts agree that more work needs to be done to prevent substance abuse on any level and that the notion of gateway drugs maybe isn’t helpful because it makes some drugs seems more dangerous than others when in fact they are all dangerous and potentially destructive. These findings also press the need for more research into medical marijuana and the potential negative side effects of the medical applications of that drug.
Contact Narconon today for more information on this topic and others. Call us now at 800-468-6933 for information on enrollment for marijuana or other drug problems.