Quit smoking to stay sober

New York: If you are trying to stop drinking, giving up cigarettes would help you stay sober, suggests new research.

The researchers found that adult smokers with a history of problem drinking who continue smoking are at a greater risk of relapsing three years later compared with adults who do not smoke.

“Quitting smoking will improve anyone’s health,” said lead author Renee Goodwin, associate professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York.

“But our study shows that giving up cigarettes is even more important for adults in recovery from alcohol since it will help them stay sober,” Goodwin noted.

The researchers followed 34,653 adults with a past alcohol use disorder.
They were assessed at two time points, three years apart, on substance use, substance use disorders, and related physical and mental disorders.

Daily smokers and non-daily smokers had approximately twice the odds of relapsing to alcohol dependence compared with non-smokers.

The relationships held even after controlling for factors, including mood, anxiety, illicit drug use disorders, and nicotine dependence.

It is unclear why smoking makes alcohol relapse more likely, but the study’s authors pointed to past research on the behavioural and neurochemical links between smoking and alcohol, and the detrimental effects of smoking on cognition.

The study appeared online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.