Where's There Smoke, There's Help

MHLbannersmallSmoking cessation is one of the topics that you'll find in every issue of your My Healthy Lifestyle newsletter. Why? Because when it comes to your health and productivity, no single behavior holds more risk. And because of the highly addictive properties of nicotine, it's good to know that you're not in it alone.

If you smoke please read these short articles. And if you don't smoke, you're bound to know someone who does, either in the workplace or at home, so you should have the information, too. In all cases, what we hope to concentrate on isn't the "why" of quitting – everyone has a good sense of that, though we may introduce some helpful reminders from time to time – but rather the "how" as well as other information that might enlighten or inspire you to make one of the most important changes you can make in your life, for yourself and those you love.

If smoking and drinking go together for you, here's what you need to remember:unhealthy_1723475c

We've all heard someone say it and you may have even said it to yourself. "I only smoke when I drink." Often, it comes at a time when someone whom you've never seen smoke before suddenly lights up in the presence of "adult beverages." From the perspective of science, what we know is that alcohol and nicotine have very different effects on the brain. At the same time, however, there may be some similar personality characteristics involved on the part of the user.

For example, individuals who use both drugs may show such common behavioral traits as impulsivity and sensation seeking. Studies also show that alcohol and tobacco can definitely have reinforcing effects on each other and create a conditioning response in the brain … so the "I only smoke when I drink" defense may have some merit.

In any case, there also appears to be a relationship between smoking and the amount of alcohol an individual drinks. A new study shows that people (smokers) may drink more alcohol if they're smoking cigarettes between sips because smoking reduces the perceived pleasurable or expected effect of drinking. In addition, alcohol tends to lower your inhibitions so you're more open to accepting a cigarette from someone else when you're drinking.

It turns out that alcohol per se, in moderation, isn't the real problem in this scenario. The concern lies with people who have quit smoking but psychologically continue to lump the two drugs together as part of a total package of socializing, enjoyment and good times. And when alcohol serves as a trigger to smoking – and there's plenty of long standing and well documented evidence showing that it can -- your best option is to avoid the potential for trouble.

The fact is, there may be a place in your life for a very moderate amount of social drinking. But social smoking doesn't exist. You are addicted to tobacco or you're not, and the amount or circumstances under which you smoke aren't relevant. Simply put, there is no such thing as smoking occasionally or infrequently and still being a non-smoker.

After some time, and it maybe a relatively long time, you may feel strong and confident enough to pick up a drink without lighting up a cigarette. In the meantime, substitute non-alcoholic drinks when you go out or simply don't drink at all.


 

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