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Why do I feel like smoking when I drink alcohol?

March 23, 2022
Reviewed by: Lisa Misquith

The current lifestyle in this fast-paced world contains countless habits and routines that are unhealthy for our bodies. Be it your unusual sleeping patterns or excessive consumption of carbs and sugar. All these actions harm your physical and mental health and have a direct impact on your performance and capabilities.

Smoking and drinking alcohol are two vices that are high on this list of unhealthy habits. Consumption of both these substances is harmful to your health, with a possibility of developing an addiction to these. Smoking cigarettes causes over 8 million deaths per year, whereas 3 million people die from unhealthy consumption of alcohol.

Through this article, you will learn the correlation between the consumption of both these substances. You will understand why drinking alcohol can trigger your smoking urges by understanding your body’s inner mechanisms. It will also help you answer critical questions you might have, like can you drink alcohol with a nicotine patch. Lastly, you will also learn how to control these cravings and continue to lead a healthy, smoke-free lifestyle.

Why Does Your Body Crave Smoking When You Are Drinking Alcohol?

Let us first start by understanding the relationship between alcohol and nicotine consumption. It will help you learn why you crave smoking only when drinking. A study conducted by Dr John Dani, an expert neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania, showed our body’s reaction to simultaneous consumption of nicotine and alcohol. 

Scientifically, there are two reasons why you get the urge to smoke a cigarette every time you drink alcohol. The intake of both alcohol and nicotine releases dopamine in your body. It is a neurotransmitter that has the potential to make you feel happy and satisfied and can positively impact your mood.

When consumed individually, both substances release dopamine and are effective in decreasing your stress levels. Once alcohol enters your system, your brain starts interconnecting the process with other feel-good activities. Smoking cigarettes or other recreational drugs is another activity that can deliver the same results. It naturally pushes your brain to bundle these memories together and grow the urge for one upon the consumption of the other.

Another scientifically observed interconnection between alcohol and nicotine also revolves around dopamine. Both cigarettes and alcohol, when consumed separately, are known to release high amounts of dopamine. However, when you are smoking after drinking alcohol, it impacts your dopamine production negatively.

Naturally, when you intake alcohol, it arouses your urge to consume a cigarette. But once you smoke a cigarette, your dopamine levels fall, forcing you to drink more alcohol. After this, the desire to consume a cigarette or other substances rises again. This cycle continues repetitively, forming an addictive pattern.

Why Is This Interconnected Cycle Harmful To Your Health? 

As explained above, both smoking and drinking are injurious to health. Both substances have the potential to develop an unhealthy addiction to them. Frequent consumption of these can cause severe illnesses and even death. Below are the side effects of both smoking and drinking alcohol.

Side effects of smoking cigarettes:

  • Smoking cigarettes can cause several chronic respiratory diseases like lung cancer and bronchitis.
  • It can also lead to cardiovascular illnesses in the heart and blood, including strokes and clotting.  
  • Cigarettes are also responsible for mouth cancer and ulcers, along with vision and hearing losses. 
  • Smoking is also a cause of other life-threatening diseases like diabetes and organ failure.

Side effects of drinking alcohol:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption leads to circulatory issues like high blood pressure and heart failure.
  • Your digestive system can develop diseases like ulcers and haemorrhoids from drinking too much.
  • Drinking alcohol can weaken your immune system, lowering your body’s defence against other diseases. 
  • Alcohol consumption can also disrupt your reproductive and nervous systems, affecting your mental health.

Side effects of consuming cigarettes and alcohol together:

  • These substances will increase your risk of getting cancers, especially in the mouth and throat. 
  • Consumption of nicotine and alcohol leads to a rise in inflammation levels weakening your immune system.
  • The synergy of the hormones released from drinking and smoking will make your hangover worse. 
  • Both these substances, when consumed together, increase the chances of forming an addiction to them.

How To Resist Cigarette Cravings And Quit Smoking?

In this article, you learned the neurological reasons relating to the consumption of cigarettes and alcohol. Now, it’s time to learn how to stop smoking and drinking using expert advice and suggestions.

Quick tips to overcome the urge to smoke:

  • Find an immediate replacement activity like playing with your phone or bracelets. 
  • Switch to chewing a piece of gum or candy to keep your mouth active and busy. 
  • Take a walk around or find an activity that keeps you distracted from smoking.
  • Discontinue your alcohol intake immediately and switch to a glass of water.

Effective measures to overcome your smoking and drinking habits:

  • Avoid triggers that can spark your smoking urges:

When trying to quit smoking or drinking, it’s essential to identify the different activities or substances that can potentially kick your smoking desires. After their identification, take strict measures to avoid these at all costs, to prevent a relapse. It includes abstaining from all situations and places that encourage you to smoke or drink alcohol.

  • Hold yourself accountable for your resolutions:

If you want to quit smoking and drinking alcohol, find reasons to give up this habit and follow them religiously. Ask your loved ones and friends to hold you accountable for your actions so that you have better motivation in quitting smoking and drinking. Also, warn them not to offer you a cigarette or a drink under any pretence.

  • Find a healthier replacement activity instead:

Switching to a healthier activity like going to the gym or picking a new workout activity will help you reach your goal. Since most people opt for smoking and drinking to combat their stress levels, naturally generating dopamine in your body through physical activity will eliminate the need for smoking cigarettes and consuming alcohol in the first place.

  • Be patient when adapting to a smoking and drinking free lifestyle:

Giving up smoking or drinking is no easy task and requires persistent efforts for months or even years. There is no instant formula that shares how to quit smoking and drinking cold turkey in a week. Be patient with yourself, and don’t hesitate to restart your journey if you lapse at any time. Reward yourself with treats for reaching new milestones to keep your morale high.

To Conclude:

Reading this article will help you understand the relationship between alcohol consumption and subsequent smoking cravings. Learning this correlation is necessary for several reasons. It will help you become better equipped to avoid these situations and educate you on how to stop smoking and drinking at the same time. The above-shared tips will offer you a quick rebuke against this health-injurious habit.

By following all the suggestions and advice shared in this article, you will have no difficulty leading a smoking-free and healthy lifestyle. However, it’s crucial to remember that practice makes perfect, and you will need to show high patience and consistent dedication to rid yourself of this deadly addiction.