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About The Cover

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ONLINE COVER Rats with prior exposure to alcohol were more susceptible to the effects of cocaine self-administration than control rats, even displaying compulsive use in contexts associated with negative consequences, Griffin et al. report. They used an epigenetic approach in a rodent model to investigate how alcohol use primes the brain for cocaine addiction. Long-term alcohol use degraded nuclear histone deacetylases 4 and 5 in the nucleus accumbens, which creates a permissive epigenetic environment for cocaine-induced expression in a key brain region for reward learning. These results converge with prior research on nicotine to suggest common epigenetic pathways for the action of gateway drugs that increase vulnerability to other forms of addiction. CREDIT: SIGARRU/GETTY IMAGES