Is There a Link Between Smoking and Alcohol Addiction?

Is There a Link Between Smoking and Alcohol Addiction?

While some may casually smoke one or two cigarettes during a night out of drinking, a new study published in April 2015 in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that the reverse effect could also be true. The study, led by Oliver George, PhD, a senior author and biologist at The Scripps Research Institute, discovered that smoking can cause the development of several alcohol cravings within an individual, which could potentially transition into addiction.

About the Study

In order to determine their results, the researchers gave alcohol to rats in order to determine how much they would be able to drink. The rats were then divided into two groups. One group was exposed to alcohol vapors in an effort to induce dependence over the course of two months. At the end of the time period the rats had consumed the equivalent of a six pack of beer and their blood alcohol levels were nearly three times the legal amount for humans.

The second group of rats received both alcohol vapors and nicotine, and their tolerance levels rose much quicker than that of the first group. After three short weeks, the rats were consuming the equivalent of a six pack of beer.

When the bitter compound quinine was added to their drinks, the rats in the alcohol-only group were the only group who seemed deterred from drinking. Additionally, it was found that while they were drinking, the stress and reward pathways in the rats’ brains were activated in a way that sparked compulsive behavior similar to alcoholism in humans.

The Dangers of Alcohol

The results of this study are especially troubling when you consider the amount of harm and damage alcohol and alcoholism can cause. Some of the negative effects alcohol abuse can cause include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Kidney stones
  • Cancer
  • Death

Adding to these dangers is the fact that cigarettes and alcohol were found to be ranked second and third among the world’s leading health risks. In 2010 alone, 6.3 million deaths were found to be caused by smoking and secondhand smoke. While both cigarette and alcohol addiction are harmful and can have serious lasting consequences, proper treatment and support can help stop their damaging effects.

By Jenna Mitchel;

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