Why you smoke when you drink alcohol

Scientists in Missouri tested the joint effects of alcohol and nicotine on rats 

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Sunday 08 November 2015 17:37 GMT
The stimulating effects of nicotine can offset the sleep-promoting effects of alcohol
The stimulating effects of nicotine can offset the sleep-promoting effects of alcohol (Getty)

Scientists may have discovered the reason why people become social smokers while drinking alcohol – and it is primarily to do with staying awake.

Researchers at the University of Missouri believe that people crave the effects of nicotine – a stimulant - when drinking, as it helps to offset the feelings of sleepiness induced by alcohol, Medical Daily reports.

The study, published in the Journal of Neurochemistry, saw researchers monitor the effects of alcohol and nicotine on rats’ brains.

In studying the basal forebrains of the animals, the area of the brain associated with reflexes, learning and attention, the researchers found that nicotine helped to supress the sleep-promoting effects of alcohol.

The researchers said: “One reason why people use nicotine, a stimulant, with alcohol is to enhance recreational [or] pleasurable sensations while suppressing alcohol's aversive effects such as sleepiness.

“Here, we demonstrate that nicotine acts via the basal forebrain to suppress sleep-promoting effects of alcohol further implicating the basal forebrain as a key substrate in nicotine alcohol co-use.”

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