Bottoms-up! Dr. John Dani explains the phenomenon in a way that TOTALLY makes sense!
Picture this: You’re having the time of your life at a party. You drink one beer, then two beers, three beers and four. Before you know it, you have the overwhelming urge to smoke a cigarette.
It happens a lot more than you might imagine, and people have been dying to know just why their body encourages them to smoke after drinking.
Hit Us With The Facts, Doc!
According to Dr. John Dani, a distinguished neuroscientist and addiction specialist hailing from the University of Pennsylvania, the urge to smoke while intoxicated stems from two distinct sources.
To begin, Dr. Dani posits that nicotine effectively ‘tricks’ the brain, establishing memory connections between environmental cues, like alcohol, and the act of smoking.
“Our brains normally make these associations between things that support our existence and environmental cues so that we conduct behaviors leading to successful lives,” he explains.
“The brain sends a reward signal when we act in a way that contributes to our well-being.
“However, nicotine commandeers this subconscious learning process in the brain so we begin to behave as though smoking is a positive action.”
Dr. Dani also shares his personal observations of colleagues who took up smoking after indulging in alcohol.
“I had known him for many years and never knew he smoked, but then he admitted he could really go for a cigarette,” Dr Dani continues.
“He said he hadn’t smoked in 20 years, not since high school. But now he has a few drinks and feels the urge to smoke.”
While this factor plays a significant role, there is yet another element that contributes to the desire to smoke when drinking.
But Wait! There’s More…
It is a well-known fact that combining alcohol and nicotine can raise dopamine levels in the brain.
After a few drinks, the synergistic effect of these two mechanisms renders cigarettes particularly challenging to resist.
This led Dr. Dani and his research team to formulate the hypothesis that combining nicotine with alcohol could potentially elevate dopamine levels even further.
To their surprise, Dr. Dani and his team were met with findings that directly contradicted their initial hypothesis.
For the experiment, the team used rats as their test subjects. Soon they discovered that when the rodents were given nicotine, they consumed more alcohol.
However, this caused their dopamine levels to drop significantly rather than raising them.
The team then came to the conclusion that drinking beer and cigarettes together will ultimately reduce your happiness.
The cycle kicks off when a person takes a sip – the alcohol sparks fond smoking memories and stirs up that nicotine itch.
Yet, after a few drinks coupled with smoking, your dopamine levels plummet.
The cycle loops as you crave more alcohol to boost those dopamine levels, ushering in a rush of euphoria.
Do you ever feel like smoking after a few drinks? Are any of Dr. Dani’s findings relatable?