Nicotine and alcohol are often consumed together. Previous research suggests that both can independently increase the perceived attractiveness of social stimuli, which may be a mechanism that drives continued use. This study examined whether there was an additive effect of nicotine and alcohol on perceived attractiveness of social and environmental stimuli.
Male and female (n = 96) social alcohol consumers and light cigarette smokers (no more than 14 cigarettes per week) were randomized to smoke either a nicotinized or denicotinized cigarette and drink either an alcoholic or non-alcoholic (placebo) beverage. The primary outcome was attractiveness ratings of facial and landscape stimuli. Secondary outcomes were self-report mood and craving.
There was a main effect of drink (p = .031) and a trend toward a main effect of cigarette (p = .057) with higher ratings of attractiveness after alcohol compared to placebo and after a nicotinized cigarette compared to a denicotinized cigarette. Nicotine and alcohol appeared to work additively on ratings of attractiveness, with the highest ratings in the nicotine/alcohol group. There were no interactions between drink, cigarette and stimulus type.
When co-administered, nicotine and alcohol consumption resulted in the highest perceptions of attractiveness across all stimulus types. This additive effect may be a mechanism by which administration of one drug reinforces use of the other, and which leads to an increased likelihood of habitual consumption and relapse.
Source: “Effects of acute nicotine and alcohol on the rating of attractiveness in social smokers and alcohol drinkers” from Drug and Alcohol Dependence
Join 25K+ readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.