NOT SWAYED: Lawrence Ogilvie-Walker, of Lismore, enjoys a Guinness at the Rous Hotel inLismore while considering the findings of new research linking cigarette and alcohol addiction.
NOT SWAYED: Lawrence Ogilvie-Walker, of Lismore, enjoys a Guinness at the Rous Hotel inLismore while considering the findings of new research linking cigarette and alcohol addiction. Jerad Williams

Buzz from smoking and drinking

IF YOU’RE trying to give up smoking, but every time you have a cold beer you reach for a cigarette, you’re normal. Well, almost.

Scientists now believe the brains of drinkers and smokers may be super sensitive to the buzz from both drugs. When they give up one, they suffer much more than people who only have one bad habit because they’re used to a greater reward.

However, Lismore pensioner Lawrence Ogilvie-Walker says the findings won’t affect his decision to quit smoking.

“I’ve never totally believed in a synchrony between drinking and smoking, because there’s never been a correlation between the two for me,” he said.

“I’m only a moderate drinker, I’m not a heavy smoker, and I started drinking about five years before I started smoking.”

University of Queensland researchers in Brisbane did a post-mortem analysis of gene expression in the brains of smokers, alcoholics and those who have done both during their lives.

They also looked at the brains of some rare Australians who’d never done either.

What they found won’t surprise anyone who likes a smoke with their lager or gin and tonic.

The group of genes in an area of the brain involved in creating pleasurable feelings were expressed most strongly in the group of alcoholic smokers, lead researcher Traute Flatscher-Bader said.

Knowing that the link between drinking and smoking may not be purely social could lead to new ways to treat addiction.

However, Mr Ogilvie-Walker said he would quit due to the cost of cigarettes and his romantic interest, despite his experience in the medical field making him well aware of the effects of smoking.

“It just suits me to give up. The research is most worthy, and I’d be curious to read it, but quitting smoking is totally individual, nothing group based. I don’t think people would be dependant on research to make their decision to quit,” he said.

“If the harsh taxation is not deterring people, then nothing will. How many people read research papers, and you have to look at their socio-economic background.”

He also said bans on smoking in drinking establishments had already broken the link between smoking and drinking for most people.



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