Bottom 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, then four. Before you know it, you feel the overwhelming urge to smoke a cigarette.
It happens a lot more than you imagine, and people are dying to know why their body encourages them to smoke after drinking.
Pexels: Pavel Danilyuk
Give us the facts, doctor!
According to Dr. John Dani, distinguished neuroscientist and addiction specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, the urge to smoke while intoxicated comes from two different sources.
For starters, Dr. Dani posits that nicotine effectively “tricks” the brain, establishing memory connections between environmental cues, such as alcohol, and the act of smoking.
“Our brains normally make these associations between the things that support our existence and environmental cues so that we carry out behaviors that lead to a successful life,” he explains.
“The brain sends a reward signal when we act in a way that contributes to our well-being.
“However, nicotine controls this subconscious learning process in the brain, so we begin to behave as if smoking were a positive action.”
Dr. Dani also shares his personal observations about colleagues who started smoking after consuming alcohol.
“I had known him for many years and never knew he smoked, but then he admitted that he could actually smoke 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 like smoking.”
Pexels: Pavel Danilyuk
While this factor plays an important role, there is another element that contributes to the desire to smoke when drinking.
But wait! There is more…
It is a well-known fact that the combination of alcohol and nicotine can increase dopamine levels in the brain.
After a few drinks, the synergistic effect of these two mechanisms makes it particularly difficult to resist cigarettes.
This led Dr. Dani and his research team to hypothesize that combining nicotine with alcohol could raise dopamine levels even further.
To their surprise, Dr. Dani and his team found findings that directly contradicted their initial hypothesis.
For the experiment, the team used rats as test subjects. They soon discovered that when rodents were given nicotine, they consumed more alcohol.
However, this caused their dopamine levels to decrease significantly rather than increase.
The team then concluded that drinking beer and cigarettes together will ultimately reduce happiness.
The cycle begins when a person takes a sip: the alcohol triggers pleasant memories of smoking and awakens the nicotine itch.
However, after a few drinks and smoking, dopamine levels plummet.
The cycle repeats as you crave more alcohol to increase those dopamine levels, causing a surge of euphoria.
Do you ever feel like smoking after a few drinks? Can any of Dr. Dani’s findings be related?