Drinks and quitting smoking aren’t a good mix?
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Drinks, smokes and sharing laughs with friends.

For many smokers, going out to the bar or pub and enjoying a couple of beers can be a lot of fun.  But if you’re serious about quitting smoking, you may want to also consider giving up alcohol as well.  Drinking is often regarded as an enemy of smoking cessation and, since the two often go hand in hand, giving one up may boost your chances with the other.


Booze and smoking cigarettes: Bad mix?

whiskey and smoking cigarettes

Think about it – when you go out for drinks with friends, you tend to have a good time.  Both alcohol and tobacco have an effect similar to dopamine: they make you feel good at the time, which reinforces the addictive pattern of behavior.  Often when smokers are stressed, they have a cigarette.  Alcohol has a relaxing effect as well.  And getting together with friends to talk complain about what’s stressing us out is the bees’ knees.

It is a pattern of behavior that can become cyclical, with each behavior reinforcing another.  By disrupting multiple behaviors (i.e. not just quitting cigarettes, but quitting alcohol as well), you can help decrease the hurdles in your way toward success (and help save your liver at the same time).


Effects of tobacco and alcohol on the body

Effects of tobacco on the body

What’s in a cigarette?  Each cigarette contains around 600 ingredients that, when burned, create over 7,000 different chemical substances – including: Acetone (found in nail polish remover), Acetic Acid (an ingredient in hair dye), Ammonia (a common household cleaner), Arsenic (a toxin used in rat poison), Benzene (found in rubber cement), Butane (used in lighter fluid), Cadmium (active component in battery acid), Formaldehyde (embalming fluid), Lead (used in batteries), Naphthalene (an ingredient in mothballs), Methanol (a main component in rocket fuel), and Tolune (used in paints) – not to mention Carbon Monoxide (released in car exhaust), Nicotine (used as insecticide) and Tar (material for paving roads).

If you think these tobacco ingredients sound toxic, you’re quite right.  Due to these chemicals, the bronchus and lungs are subjected to a heavy burden, as they directly touch the smoke.  Over time, the alveoli in the lungs will be destroyed, the bronchi will become inflamed, and the circulatory system will be damaged.  Carbon monoxide is associated with hemoglobin in the body and interferes with oxygen uptake.  It is said that this leads to a chronic state of oxygen deficiency, which causes symptoms such as shortness of breath and cough or sputum, eventually leading to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and may also lead to heart disease.  And that’s not even scratching the surface.

E-cigarettes are not necessarily better.  In 2016, the FDA mandated that e-cigarette manufacturers register with the FDA, after which time manufacturers will have until 2018 to submit an application to remain in the market.  Until that time, the nearly 500 brands and 7,700 e-cigarette flavors (e-liquids and vape juices) will remain on the market.  Until the FDA’s evaluation is done, it is difficult for anyone other than the manufacturers to know exactly what chemicals are contained in e-liquids, or how e-cigarette use might affect health, whether in the short term or in the long run.


Effects of alcohol on the body

After alcohol is ingested, it is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and transported to the liver, since the body considers alcohol a poison.  Alcohol is decomposed into acetaldehyde in the liver, and finally becomes carbon dioxide gas or moisture which is discharged outside the body.  When a person continues to drink alcohol, the body does not have time to decompose and discharge alcohol.  As a result, acetaldehyde will start accumulating in the body.  Over time, alcohol causes liver diseases such as fatty liver/liver cirrhosis and can damage the brain and other organs.


Reason why you want to smoke when you drink


When people who enjoy smoking and drinking finally try giving up cigarettes, it takes several hours to several days for the brain to adjust to a lower-nicotine state.  The pleasure that nicotine brings will also begin naturally decreasing as well.  Even after that the brain seems to have a tendency to increase the amount of drinking to fill up the difference, as it seeks behavior that results in pleasure.

Tobacco contains various toxic substances, among which is nicotine: a substance that is particularly addictive.  Nicotine acts on nicotine receptors in the brain and releases dopamine, a pleasure substance.  This is the main cause craving cigarettes and thinking “I want to smoke”, but at the same time, nicotine also serves to to increase the desire for alcohol.

Alcohol also has the effect of promoting the release of dopamine, and the brain enters into a pleasant state each time.  Both nicotine and alcohol have a pleasant effect in common, so when you know both pleasures, if you lack either, you instinctively ask for the other.  There are people who say that if you drink alcohol, smoking just makes it taste better, but the real reason is said to be that the brain seeks tobacco to further enhance its pleasure when ingesting alcohol.


Final word

Smoking cessation can appear to be easy on the surface, but looking deeper into the addiction, we find it is a linked behavior and that we must change many different habits in order to quit smoking successfully.  The reason is that the reaction to the mind and body and the burden are the reasons, and there are also a few people who run into drinking because of their loneliness.  However, when going into an environment that has alcohol, there will always be that temptation to reach for a cigarette – when you quit smoking, it may be better long-run to leave alcohol behind as well.


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