Is nicotine a “gateway drug” that leads to abuse of other addictive drugs? The Robinson Lab tested whether nicotine exposure starting in adolescence promoted alcohol drinking in female rats, hypothesizing that the pharmacological effect of nicotine on the brain would result in greater motivation to drink alcohol. In contrast, they found that nicotine exposure per se did not increase alcohol drinking, suggesting that the link between tobacco and other drug use observed in people is more complex than simply nicotine exposure priming the brain for subsequent drug use.
A.C. Madayag*, K.S. Czarnecki*, L. Wangler, D.L. Robinson (2017). Non-contextual chronic nicotine exposure initiated in adolescence minimally alters ethanol seeking. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, Aug 17;11:153. PMC5562684.