Alcoholics More Susceptible to Nicotine's Draw
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Walk into a smoky bar and it is clear: a drink and a cigarette just go together. Now, researchers shed light on the reasons why.
Nicotine seems to have a greater subconscious draw for recovering alcoholics than it does for smokers with no history of alcohol abuse, investigators have found. Among 30 smokers with or without a history of alcohol abuse, recovering alcoholics were more likely to want to chomp on high-dose nicotine gum and were willing to spend more money to get their nicotine gum fix.
Although the alcoholics were no more likely than non-alcoholics to say they preferred high-dose nicotine gum over lower-dose gum, they were subconsciously drawn to the nicotine-heavy gum.
``Unbeknownst to them, they chose the higher-nicotine gum,'' study co-author Gail L. Rose told Reuters Health. ``It was beyond their conscious awareness.''
Rose and her colleagues at the University of Vermont in Burlington report their findings in the November issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
Basically, according to the researchers, those with a past history of alcoholism do not like nicotine more than non-alcoholics do, but they do gain a greater ``reward'' from using it. However, the smoking-drinking connection is not limited to alcoholics, Rose noted.
``Drinking and smoking go together, whether there's alcoholism or not,'' she said.
The reasons remain unclear, but Rose said one theory is that common genes predispose certain people to smoking and drinking. Another possibility is that people use alcohol and nicotine to ''balance each other out,'' since alcohol is a sedative and nicotine a stimulant.
Whatever the reasons for the alcohol-nicotine link, Rose said, it does seem that people with drinking problems may need extra help in kicking the smoking habit.