Study helps explain why smoking may lead to teen alcohol abuse

The link between smoking and subsequent abuse of alcohol by adolescents has already been described, but this latest study examined how nicotine changes the brain's reward system. Experiments using rats found that even a single exposure to nicotine temporarily increased the brain's reward from alcohol. Dr. John Dani of the Baylor College of Medicine said, 'Young people typically experiment with nicotine from tobacco in their teens, and that exposure possibly contributes to a greater vulnerability to alcohol abuse later in life. Therefore, greater vigilance is called for to prevent the initial exposure to nicotine and to follow those at risk.'