Drink Less Alcohol By Quitting Smoking First

A scientific study has discovered that it's more difficult to quit alcohol if you also smoke. Apparently, the receptors in the brain linked to alcohol withdrawal are effected by frequent tobacco use, causing cravings to remain high. In other words, wannabe teetotalers should consider quitting smoking first.

Alcohol and cigarettes picture from Shutterstock

Researchers from the US analysed the effects of tobacco smoking on alcohol withdrawal be scanning the brains of 52 humans and 13 monkeys. Their results suggest that tobacco smoking could block the recovery of the brain’s gamma-aminobutyric acid A (GABAA) receptors during extended alcohol withdrawal.

These proteins remained high in participants who also smoked even after they underwent alcohol withdrawal. Meanwhile, those who didn't smoke showed a reduction in levels once they underwent withdrawal.

The time course of changes in alcohol-dependent smokers was distinctly different from that in the alcohol-dependent nonsmokers. Analyses of the t statistic maps demonstrated statistically significant differences in GABAA re-ceptor availability in alcohol-dependent smokers compared with healthy smokers at each time point that remained strikingly similar in spacial extent over time.   Thus, in alcohol-dependent smokers, tobacco smoking appears to contribute to elevated GABAA receptor availability and to prevent the de-cline observed in the alcohol-dependent nonsmokers with extended abstinence.

The report suggests two interpretations of its findings: either a constituent of tobacco smoke impedes the recovery of GABAA receptors after the onset of sobriety, or patients who are at risk for both drinking and smoking differ from patients who only abuse alcohol with respect to their GABAA receptor regulation. In other case, it seems that ditching fags is a wise choice if you're trying to cut down on your drinking.

Tobacco smoking interferes with GABAA receptor neuroadaptations during prolonged alcohol withdrawal [PNAS]

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