Are Nicotine and Caffeine Gateway Drugs?

November 22, 2016 - , - 0 Comments Are Nicotine and Caffeine Gateway Drugs?

In today’s world, caffeine and nicotine products can’t be considered non-hazardous chemicals.  Both can lead to the consumption of stronger drugs, and both are used widely across the nation.  While both have obvious health hazards, caffeine and nicotine might carry deeper dangers.  They’re legal, easy to obtain and can be habit-forming.  Not every men and women’s drug rehab center teaches the importance of caffeine and nicotine abstinence, but they should.

The Caffeine Addiction

Within 24 hours of caffeine cessation, the user will experience flu-like symptoms.  While these symptoms are subtle, they often erupt into a mental fog, a lack of alertness and muscle fatigue.  Understandably, caffeine’s negative effects have been studied.  If you’ve ever felt irritable without your morning cup of coffee, you’ve felt caffeine withdrawal.

In drug rehab for women and men, caffeine plays a different role: that of brain-changer.  Caffeine, experts believe, can alter the individual’s brain chemistry when used over time.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, considers caffeine withdrawal to be a minor mental disorder, due to its negative impacts on mental stability.

The Nicotine Addiction

While a nicotine addiction may be easier to spot—as it’s certainly more stigmatized—its long-term dangers are still undervalued.  Part of the nightshade family, the natural insecticide can alter cognitive function in seven seconds after crossing the blood brain barrier.  A smoked cigarette is both a relaxant and a stimulant, releasing glucose to the smoker’s adrenal medulla and causing the release of epinephrine.

Because smoking increases concentration and memory, and because the endorphin release reduces the individual’s pain, it creates a positive response to consumption in the smoker’s mind.  Tobacco dependence is strong, and withdrawal can be brutal.  While nicotine doesn’t appear in today’s classification of carcinogens, it does boost cholinergic activity—which may lead to cancer.

A Fine Line in the Sand

In drug rehab for women and men, nicotine and caffeine—both—are considered prohibited substances.  That said, they receive far too little attention before formal care is provided.

Today’s studies reveal the long-lasting effects of substance use—even when said substances are legal.  Addiction recovery specialists consider both caffeine and nicotine to be “gateway” drugs, due to their ability to alter the user’s brain chemistry to better accommodate for a use-withdrawal-reuse cycle.  While smoking a cigarette may not lead a user to smoke marijuana, or do cocaine, it may indeed fortify one’s cognitive desire to seek substances for withdrawal relief.

Ongoing Relief and the Future of “Small Substance” Studies

On the other hand, many can still reach for a cup of Joe without having adenosine receptor issues.  These receptors, when placated, fuel an ongoing addiction.  For some, however, adenosine receptors needn’t reach baseline levels for an addiction to be broken.  The world of addiction is big.  It’s complicated.  The men and women of every rehabilitation center understand the inherent struggles addiction presents, and it can be hard to discount the many layers of recovery needed to secure a healthy future.

Fortunately, deeper studies on caffeine, nicotine, and even alcohol are underway.  While technically a cognitive gateway into harsher substances, caffeine, and nicotine may, in fact, be “sidestepped” due to upcoming medical advancements.  Today, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine are the world’s most widely consumed psychotropic drugs.  Their above-mentioned links with mental disorders, for this reason, are intensely studied as part of the “small substance” world.  While traditionally viewed as part of the deviant’s providence, however, they’re still deserving of more attention.

For now, experts agree on one thing: Both substances, while not directly conducive to an individual’s hard substance abuse, can certainly lay groundwork for one.  Even worse, continued use of caffeine and nicotine during a hard substance addiction isn’t helping.  In fact, it might be incredibly harmful.

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