It's no secret that drinking and smoking go hand in hand. In fact, studies have shown that 85 percent of alcoholics also smoke. The reason for that could come back to something simple: sleep.
Alcohol is a depressant, and causes sleepiness. On the other hand, nicotine is a stimulant, and can counteract that sleepiness, allowing people who smoke to consume more alcohol, according to a new study.
“When used in conjunction with alcohol, nicotine acts as a stimulant to ward off sleep,” said Mahesh Thakkar, a reasearcher at the Missouri School of Medicine who authored the study. “If an individual smokes, then he or she is much more likely to consume more alcohol, and vice-versa. They feed off each other.”
By studying rats, researchers were able to see that nicotine cancelled out the sleep-inducing effect of alcohol on the brain by stimulating an area known as the basal forebrain.
“By indentifying the reactions that take place when people smoke and drink, we may be able to use this knowledge to help curb alcohol and nicotine addiction,” Thakkar said.