Why smoking and drinking go so well together

The golden combination: beer and cigarettes.

The golden combination: beer and cigarettes.

Drinking and smoking is a solid combination. Most smokers consume more cigarettes when they hit the booze and lots of people only smoke when they drink. Together with good company this is the holy trinity while sitting at the bar. But why is it that drinks and smokes go so well together? American researchers of the Baylor College of Medicine claim to have the answer.

After experimenting with rats, the scientists think that it’s all about stress hormones and the brain’s pleasure centre. They gave rats nicotine before offering them alcohol. In all cases this boosted the rat’s interest in alcohol. Even 15 hours after getting the nicotine, while it takes only 90 minutes before nicotine is out of the rat’s system. With that in mind the scientists concluded that there must be a reaction in the brain.

Now for the technical part. The researchers found that alcohol boosts dopamine levels in the brain’s pleasure centres. This is what gives you an euphoric feeling. However when drinking on a regular basis the brain responds less and less to alcohol and you will require a larger amount of alcohol to reach the same level of pleasure. Nicotine seems to stimulate this process even more.

Also nicotine increases the level of the stress hormone glucocorticoids in the body. This reduced the dopamine-related pleasure for the rats. This is a second reason why the brain encourages you to drink when smoking.

So in conclusion: when you drink a lot, a shot of nicotine can help you control your euphoric feeling. While a drink after smoking undoes the damage those stress hormones did to your brain and make you happy again. Maybe it doesn’t sound as tempting when explained in scientific terms, but at least now you know why that beer and cigarette go so well together.

Micky Bumbar

More posts on alcohol and science

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16 thoughts on “Why smoking and drinking go so well together

  1. Interesting. I just celebrated 200 days without smoking. I was worried about wanting a cigarette when I had a glass of wine (or several glasses), but didn’t have the urge at all.

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    • Nice going! Keep up the good work! Actually I quitted 3 times in my life which lasted quite easy for 1 year (2 times) and 8 months… But then I got bored and started smoking again. Now I only smoke when I drink, which makes some people believe I am a regular smoker haha
      Micky

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      • I quit cold turkey and it was like having flu. Smoked for 22 years. I don’t want to go back through that again. I sure do love tobacco. Sounds like you do to. 🙂

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  2. Wow. I am one of those only smoke when you drink kind of people and I always wondered why I only had the urge to smoke when drinking. I work in animal research and found this experiment really neat. Thanks for putting it all together!

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  3. Reblogged this on Foodie Fox and commented:
    “…when you drink a lot, a shot of nicotine can help you control your euphoric feeling. While a drink after smoking undoes the damage those stress hormones did to your brain and make you happy again.”

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  4. Pingback: "Chai, Sutta and Pan Shop" has been transformed to "Beer, Cigarette and Bar" - Ignite Engineers

    • It probably is. I mean moderate drinking is even healthy, where there is no such thing as health benefits of moderate smoking. Alcohol is a substance humans need by evolution. Nicotine and tear are not. But I doubt if replacing 2 cigarettes a day by a bottle of whisky is an upgrade for the body.
      Cheers,
      Micky

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  5. I’m just hold myself Not to drink because of smoking…and it drive me Crazy.. And I feel like Smoking Again…

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    • Well every person is different of course, but for me this usually lasts a week. Last time I gave up smoking I just bought a lot of peanuts and potato chips when I went drinking. It really helped for the psychological effect.
      Cheers,
      Micky

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  6. Enjoying a drink and a cigar from time to time is awsome. In my opinion if u have to choose, go for the drink. But if u smoke dont smoke cigars, smoke weeed, at least u will get high.. The best is not.to do any of that on a regular basis. It will harm tge body too much. Once in a while its ok i guess.
    Do more sport than drugs&alchool I say.
    #PeaceOut

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  7. Pingback: Quitting smoking and drinking - Club Soda

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