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J Addict Dis. 1997;16(3):19-24.

Self-reported alcohol use patterns in a sample of male and female heavy smokers.

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Nicotine Research Laboratory, University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry, Ann Arbor, USA.


In an attempt to characterize differences among male and female smokers based on past and current alcohol use, we studied patterns of drinking, smoking, caffeine intake, and depression as a function of lifetime history of alcohol dependence and current drinking status in a community sample of current smokers. Subjects were 65 male and 152 female moderate-to-heavy smokers. The CAGE was used to screen for lifetime history of alcohol dependence; current drinking status was classified using self-reported number of alcoholic drinks/week. No significant differences were detected for smoking rate, scores on the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence, or either coffee or total caffeine intake. Drinkers with a history of alcohol dependence drank significantly more per week than drinkers with no history, with significant gender differences and interaction effects emerging as well; the phenomenon was particularly pronounced in men. Drinkers of both genders with a history of alcohol dependence scored significantly higher on the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale, with means exceeding the cutoff of 16 associated with clinical depression. Since comorbidity of depression and alcohol dependence is known to exert a detrimental effect on ability to stop smoking, the number of individuals at risk for smoking cessation treatment failure may be much larger than might be inferred from data based on psychiatric assessments or collected in inpatient settings. Routine screening for depressive symptomatology combined with heavy alcohol use in primary care settings may therefore be helpful in identifying smokers in need of more intensive stop-smoking interventions.

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