Researchers from the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California have concluded that veterans who smoke have a more difficult time maintaining sobriety than those veterans who don’t smoke.
The study found that smoking while trying to quit drinking inhibits memory, learning and other cognitive skills. These particular cognitive functions are imperative to maintaining sobriety, the Medical News Today reports.
Lead researcher Dr. Timothy Durazzo states, “Given our strong and consistent research findings in both veterans and civilians on the ill effects of chronic smoking, we truly hope to see smoking cessation programs become increasingly available for our current active-duty war fighters.”
Durazzo points out that active duty soldiers smoke about ten times more than civilians. After their military service is complete, these veterans are more likely than the civilian population to abuse alcohol. Around 400,000 VA patients are addicted to alcohol or other drugs. Around 500,000 VA patients are regular smokers.
Durazzo notes that combining alcohol with cigarettes has a greater negative effect on the brain than drinking alcohol alone. He asserts, “our results suggest that it is a high priority to offer comprehensive smoking cessation treatment for all patients, especially for those seeking treatment for alcohol and substance abuse, given the high prevalence of smoking in these individuals.”
Durazzo studied 70 veterans who wanted alcohol dependence treatment and studied the effects of cigarette smoking on cognitive function after 30 days of alcohol abstinence. In matters of learning, memory, processing and intelligence, smokers performed significantly worse than non smokers after one month of alcohol abstinence.