Los Angeles Times

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.

About 21 percent of those who use cocaine on an occasional basis wind up taking the drug compulsively, experts estimate. That leads researchers who study drug addiction to ask: What sets those addicts apart from their peers?

Perhaps alcohol and nicotine

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