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Dual Diagn (Foster City). 2016;1(2). pii: 9. Epub 2016 Apr 25.

Nicotine Dependence and Alcohol Problems from Adolescence to Young Adulthood.

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Department of Psychology, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, USA.
University of North Dakota, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, USA.
Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, USA.
Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, USA.



Despite the highly replicated relationship between symptoms associated with both alcohol and nicotine, little is known about this association across time and exposure to both drinking and smoking. In the present study, we evaluate if problems associated with alcohol use are related to emerging nicotine dependence symptoms and whether this relationship varies from adolescence to young adulthood, after accounting for both alcohol and nicotine exposure.


The sample was drawn from the Social and Emotional Contexts of Adolescent Smoking Patterns Study which measured smoking, nicotine dependence, alcohol use and alcohol related problems over 6 assessment waves spanning 6 years. Analyses were based on repeated assessment of 864 participants reporting some smoking and drinking 30 days prior to individual assessment waves. Mixed-effects regression models were estimated to examine potential time, smoking and/or alcohol varying effects in the association between alcohol problems and nicotine dependence.


Inter-individual differences in mean levels of alcohol problems and within subject changes in alcohol problems from adolescence to young adulthood were each significantly associated with nicotine dependence symptoms over and above levels of smoking and drinking behaviour. This association was consistent across both time and increasing levels of smoking and drinking.


Alcohol related problems are a consistent risk factor for nicotine dependence over and above measures of drinking and smoking and this association can be demonstrated from the earliest experiences with smoking in adolescents, through the establishment of more regular smoking patterns across the transition to young adulthood. These findings add to accumulating evidence suggesting that smoking and drinking may be related through a mechanism that cannot be wholly accounted for by exposure to either substance.


Alcohol problems; Mixed-effects regression model; Nicotine


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