3/19/2006

Same Genes May Underlie Alcohol and Nicotine Co-Abuse

Vulnerability to both alcohol and nicotine abuse may be influenced by the same genetic factor, according to a recent study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In the study, two genetically distinct kinds of rat – one an innately heavy-drinking strain bred to prefer alcohol (“P” rats), the other strain bred to not prefer alcohol (“NP” rats) -- learned to give themselves nicotine injections by pressing a lever. Researchers found that P rats took more than twice as much nicotine as NP rats. Their findings were reported recently in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Researchers have known for some time that people who smoke are more likely to drink alcohol than non-smokers. Similarly, smoking is three times more common in people with alcoholism than in the general population. Since previous studies have also determined that genetics plays an important role in both alcohol and nicotine addictions, researchers have hypothesized that the same gene or genes may influence the co-abuse of these substances.





Same Genes May Underlie Alcohol and Nicotine Co-Abuse

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