Researchers evaluate rats that were given alcohol 10 days prior to having cocaine, those exposed show addictive behaviour.
A new study now claims that alcohol is a gateway drug and can increase chances of a person getting addicted to cocaine.
Researchers evaluated rats that were given alcohol ten days prior to having cocaine, and those that were exposed were more vulnerable to showing addictive behaviour.
According to the study, the rats that had alcohol were three times more likely to be addicted to cocaine, and experts warn that this gateway drug can influence the brain in how it responds to other substances.
The research was conducted by the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and evaluated cocaine-seeking behaviour in rats that consumed alcohol and those that didn't.
Dr. Edmund Griffin Jr., an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the university, and his team administered the alcohol to some of the rats ten days before they were given the cocaine.
While addiction to cocaine has previously been linked to other substances such as alcohol, nicotine and marijuana, it has remained unclear how environmental risks drive this addictive behaviour differently in people.
The brain has a reward's pathway called the mesolimbic dopamine system which can be stimulated by many different environmental factors including sex, food, alcohol and drugs.
If someone uses cocaine, the drug will block the area in the brain that released the dopamine and cause a build-up of the neurotransmitter.
This is when the drug user experiences the release of euphoria when they first take cocaine.
Only about 21 percent of cocaine users become inclined to repetitively abuse the drug, which researchers from the study said suggests that both environmental and genetic risk factors are contributors.