Melissa Healy

Could Cigarettes and Booze Be the Real "Gateway Drugs"?

Alcohol reshapes the brain in ways that make rats more likely to become cocaine addicts

The idea of a "gateway drug" may sound like a throwback to the "Just say no" era. But new research offers fresh evidence that alcohol and nicotine — two psychoactive agents that are legal, ubiquitous and widely used during adolescence — ease the path that leads from casual cocaine use to outright addiction.

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