This study will use animal models of alcohol drinking to determine under which conditions nicotine enhances alcohol intake.
Nicotine and alcohol are the most commonly abused recreational drugs, and nicotine dependence and alcoholism have a high degree of comorbidity. For example, an estimated 90% of alcoholics also smoke, and an estimated 60% of smokers engage in binge drinking. The health consequences of alcohol and nicotine abuse are severe, including many types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, liver damage, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Further, these health issues are more severe in individuals who co-abuse these drugs. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms that underlie the interaction between nicotine and alcohol abuse. This information can then be used to develop treatments specifically designed address the comorbidity of addiction to these drugs. Further, by parsing the roles of specific neural subcircuits in the response to alcohol and alcohol-related cues, specific experimental and pharmacological interventions can be designed to reduce the impact of nicotine on alcohol intake.
Paul J. Meyer, PhD
Department of Psychology
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)