Early cannabis abuse 'leads to heroin
The Daily Mail (UK), 5th
Taking cannabis as a
teenager really does pave the way to heroin
addiction in later life, say scientists.
Researchers have found
that cannabis acts as a 'gateway' drug, because
exposure during adolescence primes the system to
crave the chemical stimulation of hard drugs.
Previously it has been
argued teenagers move to harder drugs because of
peer or emotional pressures, or easy
The study, published
online today in the journal
Neuropsychopharmacology, looked at the behaviour
of young rats exposed to cannabis. These rats
took in much larger doses of opium when trained
to self administer than other rodents.
Dr Yasmin Hurd of the
Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, said
cannabis affects some of the brain's natural
chemicals which heighten positive emotions.
The same system is
stimulated by hard drugs meaning the brain may 'remember'
The adolescent brain is
particularly sensitive to drug exposure, she
said, because of cell changes in areas essential
for behavioural functions.