Article

Effect of transdermal nicotine replacement on alcohol responses and alcohol self-administration

Psychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 3.99). 02/2008; 196(2):189-200. DOI: 10.1007/s00213-007-0952-3

ABSTRACT RationaleNicotine replacement is commonly used to treat tobacco use in heavy-drinking smokers. However, few studies have examined the
effect of nicotine replacement on subjective and physiological responses to alcohol and alcohol drinking behavior.

ObjectiveThe primary aim of this within-subject, double-blind study was to examine whether transdermal nicotine replacement (0mg vs
21mg/day) altered response to a low-dose priming drink and subsequent ad libitum drinking behavior.

Materials and methodsSubjects (n = 19) were non-treatment-seeking, non-dependent heavy drinkers who were daily smokers. Six hours after transdermal patch
application, subjective and physiological responses to a priming drink [designed to raise blood alcohol levels (BALs) to 0.03g/dl]
were assessed. This was followed by a 2-h self-administration period where subjects could choose to consume up to eight additional
drinks (each designed to raise BALs by 0.015g/dl) or to receive monetary reinforcement for drinks not consumed.

ResultsWe found that 6h after patch application, tobacco craving associated with withdrawal relief was decreased, and systolic blood
pressure and heart rate were increased in the active patch condition compared to the placebo patch condition. Subjective intoxication
in response to the priming drink was attenuated in the active nicotine patch condition compared to 6h of nicotine deprivation
(i.e., placebo patch). During the self-administration period, subjects had longer latencies to start drinking and consequently
appeared to consume fewer drinks when administered the active patch compared to the placebo patch.

ConclusionsIn heavy drinkers, transdermal nicotine replacement compared to mild nicotine deprivation attenuated subjective and physiological
alcohol responses and delayed the initiation of drinking.

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