People who both smoke and drink might get a greater reward, making it harder for them to quit.
If drinking and smoking seem inextricably linked, perhaps it’s because in the brain’s pleasure center they actually are.
Alcoholics often have a particularly hard time quitting cigarettes. Traute Flatscher-Bader at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues wondered why this should be. So they did a post-mortem analysis of gene expression in the brains of smokers, alcoholics and those who had done both during their lives.
They found that a group of genes in the nucleus accumbens – an area involved in creating pleasurable feelings – were expressed most strongly in their group of alcoholic smokers.
These genes play a role in rewiring the neurons in the nucleus accumbens. That means people who both smoke and drink might get a greater reward, making it harder for them to quit, says Flatscher-Bader.
Knowing that the link between drinking and smoking may not be purely social could lead to new ways to treat addiction.
Via New Scientist