Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Tobacco prevention programs successful in the Bitterroot
The Ravalli County Tobacco Prevention office reports that the use of tobacco in Montana has decreased significantly over the past decade.
Ravalli County Tobacco Prevention Specialist Lyndsay Stover said that in Montana tobacco use rates have decreased between the ages of 12 and 18. In 2001, the tobacco use rate was 29 percent; in 2011, it dropped to 17 percent.
Stover said that recently the National Institute of Drug Abuse released a study that explains how tobacco products could act as a gateway drug.
Researchers at Columbia University identified a biological mechanism that could help explain how tobacco products possibly act as a gateway drug, increasing a person’s future likelihood of abusing cocaine and perhaps other drugs as well.
The recent study is the first to show that nicotine could prime the brain to enhance the behavioral effects of cocaine.
The National Institutes of Health conducted a survey that showed more than 90 percent of adult cocaine users between the ages of 18 and 34 had smoked cigarettes before they began using cocaine.
Stover said that tobacco is the first drug for kids and if its use is prevented at a younger age it will in turn help prevent further drug use.
“Smoking actually teaches kids how to use drugs. When they smoke, they are becoming aware of how to use drugs,” she said.
Stover said that kids who begin with tobacco often look for a greater thrill.
The researchers found that nicotine makes the brain more susceptible to cocaine addictions. The discovery suggests that lowering smoking rates in young people might help reduce cocaine abuse.
The Department of Education agrees with the Centers for Disease Control that the younger a child starts smoking the more addicted they become.
Smoking prevention efforts are not only preventing the negative health consequences with smoking, but can also decrease the risk of progression and addiction to cocaine and other drugs.