As our society expands in numbers,
dilemmas become prevalent. One notable issue deals with the habit forming
substance use of alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol and tobacco consumption in
college students is a growing problem in our society. Research has shown
a relationship between alcohol and amount of nicotine that is consumed
in alcoholic adults (Batel & Pessione, 1995; Gulliver, Rohesenow, Colby,
Dey, Abrams, Niaura & Monti, 1995). Research shows that alcoholics
smoke at a rate that is about three times higher than the population as
a whole (Patten, Martin, & Owen, 1996). In addition 70% of drinkers
are heavy smokers (Collins, 1995). Factors that contribute to college drinking
and smoking include desire for alleviation of stress, peer pressure, social
acceptance, family history of drug use, economic status, social norms and
wanting to appear mature (Lichtenfeld & Kayson, 1994; "Action on smoking
and health", 1999).
In a study conducted by Gulliver and colleagues
(Gulliver, S.B., Rohsenow, D.J., Colby, S. M., Dey, A.N., Abrams, D.B,
Niaura, R.S., & Monti, P.M., 1993) the interrelationships of smoking
and alcohol dependence and the relationship between the presence of alcohol
and urge to smoke were examined. The study used the Fagerstrom Tolerance
Questionnaire to measure tobacco dependence and the Alcohol Dependence
Scale and A cue reactivity assessment was used to determine the relationship
between urge to smoke in presence of alcohol. The results of the study
showed that smoking rate and the tobacco dependence were significantly
correlated with alcohol dependence. The results also showed that there
was a positive correlation between urge to drink and urge to smoke.
Nicotine and alcohol often occur concurrently,
both in terms of consumption at the same time and constant consumers of
one tend to be constant consumers of the other. Two hypotheses that
try to explain this relationship are the social cognitive apprenticeship
hypothesis and the psychological compensation hypothesis. According to
the social cognitive apprenticeship hypothesis the two needs may result
from alcohol inciting a desire for nicotine and vice versa. Each one serves
as a stimulus for the other. The psychological compensation hypothesis
believes that smoking may help to relieve the negative effects of depression
and anxiety that can be associated with heavy drinking (Gulliver, Rohesenow,
Colby, Dey, Abrams, Niaura & Monti, 1995).
This study has two specific
goals. First, it will examine the relationship between alcohol and nicotine
intake in a college population. Second, it will examine if exposure to
alcohol will trigger nicotine cravings. It is hypothesized that (1) alcohol
consumption will increase amount of cigarettes smoked and (2) exposure
to alcohol will increase urge to smoke.
A total of 44 participants were
recruited (24 females and 20 males) from the general psychology subjects
pool of a small northeastern liberal arts college.
The materials used for this study are; The
Student Alcohol Questionnaire, a self report measure developed by, Engs
(1997), The Fagerstrom Tolerance Questionnaire (FTQ), developed by Fagerstrom
(1999) to measure nicotine dependence (FTND) and heaviness of smoking index
(HIS), and the cue activity assessment, which assesses if the presence
of alcohol induces cravings for nicotine.
The participants first completed the Fagerstrom
questionnaire and the student alcohol questionnaire.
The participants were next split into
four groups of 11. Each group was given a different concentration of peppermint
listerine. Each participant in the group was then asked to smell the listerine
concentration for three minutes and rate their craving for nicotine on
a scale of 1-5. One being no craving, two being slight craving, three being
craving, four being strong craving and five being very strong craving.
After the cue reactivity assessment was finished the participants received
a debriefing form (See Appendix A) explaining to them all about the study.
The results replicate previous findings
(Gulliver et al., 1993; Batel & Pessione, 1995) to the degree that
alcohol consumption is correlated with tobacco consumption. Strong
evidence was provided that alcohol consumption and tobacco use have a strong
relationship. This relationship was found by questionnaires which obtained
information about amount of alcohol consumed a week and amount of cigarettes
consumed a week. In previous studies (Gulliver et al., 1993; Batel &
Pessione, 1995; DiFranza & Guerrera, 1990) a clear relationship was
shown between alcoholism and tobacco use. These findings suggest that heavy
tobacco use can be an early indicator of alcoholism.
The results also provided clear evidence
that the presence of different alcohol concentrations increased craving
to smoke in cigarette smokers. This significance was found on ratings obtained
from a cue reactivity assessment. The two higher alcohol concentrations
showed no significant results. This finding could be due to the fact that
the powerful mint smell of the listerine was so strong in these concentrations
that it made the participants ill to smell it for three minutes. Gulliver
and Colleagues believe that a learned association between smoking and drinking
could explain the relationship between urge to smoke in response to alcohol
Gulliver and colleagues (1995) as
well as Perkins (1997) attempt to explain the relationship between alcohol
consumption and tobacco use with a common theory. The theory being that
nicotine implements the individuals to consume alcohol without experiencing
some of the adverse effects, mainly depression and anxiety, but at the
same time retaining the initial arousing mood effects. Gulliver and colleagues
also believe that this relationship may trigger similar opioid peptide
responses as a coping response, or form of self medication.
According to Burton and Tiffany (1997) the
finding that alcohol enhances craving to smoke correlates with other data
indicating that alcohol consumption is strongly affiliated with smoking
relapse in ex-smokers.
Burton and Tiffany go on to say that once
alcohol is initiated as a smoking cue, it is difficult for abstinent smokers
to avoid . Two findings were contrived from this research. First, alcohol
consumption and cigarette smoking showed a strong correlation. Specifically,
alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking have a positive relationship,
because this study was correlational it should not be taken as evidence
of a causal relationship. Second, presence of alcohol showed to increase
urge to smoke in smokers.
What the findings of this study and the
above information implicates, is that the combined use of smoking and alcohol
consumption are dependent on one another and that those who abuse one substance
are likely to become abusers of the other.