Alcoholics who smoke may be at a disadvantage as they try to quit drinking, a new study suggests.
"Non-smoking alcoholics showed a significantly greater level of recovery than smoking alcoholics in the areas of mental efficiency, higher-level reasoning and problem-solving, visual-spatial processing skills, and working or short-term memory," Timothy C. Durazzo, an assistant adjunct professor in the department of radiology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), said in a prepared statement.
His team published its findings in the July issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
It is estimated that 50 percent to 90 percent of people in North America who seek treatment for alcoholism are also smokers. And previous research has shown that alcoholics who smoke have poorer cognitive skills than non-smokers when they are still actively drinking or after a short period of sobriety.
How the study was conducted
For this study, researchers from UCSF and the University of Florida recruited 13 non-smoking recovering alcoholics, 12 smoking recovering alcoholics, and 22 non-smoking, light-drinking controls. The participants were almost exclusively male.
The researchers followed the groups during six to nine months of abstinence from alcohol, comparing their neurocognitive changes with those of the controls.
The findings may give smokers another reason to quit.
"Given that the mortality associated with cigarette smoking is nearly four times greater than the mortality related to alcohol-induced diseases, and given our findings, perhaps chronic smokers entering treatment for substance abuse and alcoholism should consider concurrent participation in a smoking-cessation program," Durazzo said.
Further research is needed to determine the effectiveness and consequences of attempting to quit smoking at the same time as discontinuing alcohol, the team said. – (HealthDayNews)
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