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Ann Behav Med. 1999 Summer;21(3):244-50.

Response to nicotine dependence treatment in smokers with current and past alcohol problems.

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Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Smoking prevalence among alcoholics is high, and evidence indicates that smokers with a history of alcohol abuse may have more difficulty quitting cigarette smoking. This study is a post hoc analysis comparing the smoking cessation rates of smokers with active or past alcohol problems to the rates in smokers with no history of alcohol problems who were participants in a randomized, controlled trial of smoking cessation therapy. Subjects received either 44 mg/24 hour or 22 mg/24 hour nicotine patch for 4 or 6 weeks, respectively, followed by a tapering schedule to complete 8 weeks of therapy and a randomly assigned behavioral intervention (minimal, brief individual counseling, group therapy). The Self-Administered Alcoholism Screening Test (SAAST) score was used to determine alcohol group assignment (no alcohol problems < 7; active alcohol problems > or = 7 and still drinking; past alcohol problems if not drinking due to a past history of alcohol problems). Among 382 subjects (171 men and 211 women), 281 had no alcohol problems (74%), 53 had past alcohol problems (14%), and 48 had active alcohol problems (13%). Smoking cessation rates assessed at both weeks 4 and 8 were significantly different across groups (p = 0.026 and 0.002 at weeks 4 and 8, respectively) with lower rates in the groups with past and active alcohol problems when compared to the "no problem" group. At week 26, subjects with past alcohol problems were less likely to be abstinent from smoking than no problem group subjects, but this was not statistically significant (odds ratio = 0.49, 95% confidence interval 0.22-->1.08). In the short term, smokers with past or active alcohol problems are less likely to quit smoking compared to those with no alcohol problems when treated with nicotine patch therapy for smoking cessation.

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