Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 682–690 | Cite as

Implicit alcohol and smoking associations among young adult heavy drinkers: Associations with smoking status and alcohol-cigarette co-use

  • Jeffrey D. Wardell
  • Sarah S. Dermody
  • Kristen P. Lindgren
  • Asad M. Medina
  • Christian S. Hendershot
Original Paper


Implicit memory associations may play a role in motivation to use alcohol and cigarettes, but the relationship between implicit associations and co-use of alcohol and cigarettes is currently unknown. This study provided an initial examination of alcohol and smoking implicit associations among young adult drinkers who were either nonsmokers or relatively light smokers (i.e., 10 or fewer cigarettes per day) as a function of smoking frequency and daily-level alcohol-cigarette co-use. Drinkers (n = 129) completed alcohol-arousal and smoking-valence variants of the implicit association test as well as a daily-level assessment of past 90-day alcohol and cigarette use. Smokers were grouped according to whether they reported daily or nondaily smoking frequency. Results showed that although implicit alcohol-arousal associations did not differ between smokers and nonsmokers, stronger implicit alcohol-arousal associations were observed for nondaily smokers relative to daily smokers after controlling for drinking frequency. Further, implicit positive-smoking associations were stronger for smokers relative to nonsmokers. Within the subgroup of nondaily smokers, more frequent co-use of alcohol and cigarettes was associated with stronger implicit positive-smoking associations when controlling for total drinking and smoking frequency. The findings suggest that implicit alcohol and smoking associations may be linked with smoking patterns (daily vs. nondaily) and co-use of alcohol and cigarettes among young adult drinkers who are not heavy smokers, highlighting the need for more research on the role of implicit associations in the co-use of cigarettes and alcohol.


Implicit association test Binge drinkers Chippers Occasional smokers Simultaneous use 



The authors thank Angelo DiBello for his assistance with IAT stimuli development.


This research was supported by Grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (MOP-119444, MSH-130189) and the Ontario Mental Health Foundation to CSH. The authors also acknowledge additional support from Canadian Institutes of Health Research postdoctoral fellowship Grants to JDW (MFE-140817) and SSD (MFE-33926), the Canada Research Chairs program (CSH), and Grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to KPL (R01 AA024732; R01 AA 21763).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research ethics board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey D. Wardell
    • 1
  • Sarah S. Dermody
    • 2
    • 3
  • Kristen P. Lindgren
    • 4
  • Asad M. Medina
    • 3
  • Christian S. Hendershot
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Institute for Mental Health Policy ResearchCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  3. 3.Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  5. 5.Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute and Institute for Mental Health Policy ResearchCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  6. 6.Departments of Psychology and PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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