PIRE Publication - Smoking cessation and alcohol consumption in individuals in treatment for alcohol use disorders


Most individuals with alcohol use disorders are dependent on both alcohol and nicotine, and combined use of both substances is more damaging to health than use of either alone. Although research indicates that alcoholics can quit smoking, discrepant results have been reported regarding whether smoking cessation is associated with increased risk of alcohol relapse. The purpose of this paper was to examine the relationship between smoking cessation and alcohol consumption using data from Project MATCH. Of the 1,307 participants who smoked at any point during the study, 160 (12%) quit. Quitters consumed less alcohol than those who continued smoking. In addition, quitters demonstrated a significant reduction in alcohol consumption at the time of smoking cessation, which was sustained for six months post-cessation. These findings suggest that individuals in treatment for alcohol use disorders who are motivated to stop smoking can safely be encouraged to do so without jeopardizing their sobriety.

Friend, K. B.
Pagano, M. E.