, Volume 196, Issue 2, pp 189-200
Date: 03 Oct 2007

Effect of transdermal nicotine replacement on alcohol responses and alcohol self-administration

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Abstract

Rationale

Nicotine replacement is commonly used to treat tobacco use in heavy-drinking smokers. However, few studies have examined the effect of nicotine replacement on subjective and physiological responses to alcohol and alcohol drinking behavior.

Objective

The primary aim of this within-subject, double-blind study was to examine whether transdermal nicotine replacement (0 mg vs 21 mg/day) altered response to a low-dose priming drink and subsequent ad libitum drinking behavior.

Materials and methods

Subjects (n = 19) were non-treatment-seeking, non-dependent heavy drinkers who were daily smokers. Six hours after transdermal patch application, subjective and physiological responses to a priming drink [designed to raise blood alcohol levels (BALs) to 0.03 g/dl] were assessed. This was followed by a 2-h self-administration period where subjects could choose to consume up to eight additional drinks (each designed to raise BALs by 0.015 g/dl) or to receive monetary reinforcement for drinks not consumed.

Results

We found that 6 h after patch application, tobacco craving associated with withdrawal relief was decreased, and systolic blood pressure and heart rate were increased in the active patch condition compared to the placebo patch condition. Subjective intoxication in response to the priming drink was attenuated in the active nicotine patch condition compared to 6 h of nicotine deprivation (i.e., placebo patch). During the self-administration period, subjects had longer latencies to start drinking and consequently appeared to consume fewer drinks when administered the active patch compared to the placebo patch.

Conclusions

In heavy drinkers, transdermal nicotine replacement compared to mild nicotine deprivation attenuated subjective and physiological alcohol responses and delayed the initiation of drinking.