A new study has pointed out that smoking can increase a person's tendency to alcohol abuse.
Even though it was known earlier that smoking increases the risk of alcohol abuse, the causes for this connection was not clear.
Experiments conducted on rats pointed out that even a single exposure to nicotine temporarily altered the brain's reward system and the manner of response to alcohol. Nicotine basically increased the reinforcing properties of alcohol through stress hormones.
"Our findings indicate the mechanisms by which nicotine influences the neural systems associated with alcohol abuse, providing a foundation for conceptualizing strategies aimed at diminishing the link between smoking and later alcohol abuse," Dr. John Dani, of the Baylor College of Medicine, said.
Researchers found that rats exposed to nicotine were looking out for alcohol much more than other rats. Further, when the nicotine-exposed animals consumed alcohol, the signaling in the brain's reward system was dampened. This caused the rats to self-administer more alcohol following exposure to nicotine.