Casual and heavy smokers beware, nicotine use while drinking alcohol can lead to a greater dependency to both, as well as create learning difficulties.
A study by Temple University researchers, Thomas J. Gould, associate professor of psychology and the Center for Substance Abuse Research and Danielle Gulick, graduate student in the Department of Psychology, concluded that interactions between alcohol and nicotine can impact your learning process and strengthen the possibility of addiction, thus making quitting either substance much more difficult.
The study found that the negative effects of alcohol on learning capabilities can be reversed through administering nicotine into the body when used only in conjunction with alcohol.
The interactive effects of the two after repeated use create more problems than solutions.
When alcohol and nicotine are used together frequently, the nicotine loses its ability to counter some of the negative effects of alcohol consumption.
“Alcoholics would be expected to have a more difficult time quitting smoking and chronic smokers would be expected to have more trouble abstaining from alcohol,” Gould said.
When nicotine is no longer effective in reversing side effects related to alcohol there is no reason for its continued use. The study examined stopping the doses of nicotine but in this instance the cigarette use had increased over time because of its continued use with alcohol and addiction had become a possibility.
These implications were thought to be involved with the hippocampus in the brain. Gould and Gulick explored the use of the two substances as habits that start in the hippocampus where short-term memories are converted to long-term ones.
Just as alcohol and nicotine were used together in the study, after time, the counter-acting effects disappear and addiction becomes a concern. A smoker trying to quit goes into withdrawal and begins to drink, but as the drinking increases, so does the probability of beginning to smoke again.
A person may use nicotine to help clear his or her mind when consuming alcohol. Over time, however, the repeated use of nicotine neutralizes its effects and addiction occurs.
Addiction is not always the final outcome when combating alcoholism or addiction to cigarettes. A person’s will to stop using these substances is always a factor. “The desire to quit has to be there for any chance to succeed but even a strong desire is often not enough” informed Gould.
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