Sex differences in the acute effects of cigarette smoking on the reinforcing value of alcohol

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Abstract

Alcohol consumption acutely increases smoking behavior, but the reverse relationship, the acute effects of smoking on alcohol intake, largely has been ignored. We examined whether smoking acutely increases the reinforcing value of alcohol, first in the absence of recent alcohol intake and then following an alcohol pre-load. Healthy, social-drinking smokers (n  = 11 men, 14 women) engaged in a computerized task involving concurrent schedules of reinforcement for beer (FR10, 3 oz (90 ml) per reinforcement) or money (FR5 to FR30, $0.20 per reinforcement) during two sessions, one following day-long ad lib smoking and the other following overnight smoking abstinence. During each session, subjects performed the task in two sets of trials, one before and one after consumption of an alcohol pre-load, with 60 min between sets. To standardize the alcohol pre-load, all subjects were led to believe that they had earned 9 oz (270 ml) of beer after the first trial set, which they then consumed before the second set of trials. Compared to responding during the abstinent session, responding for alcohol during the smoking session was no different before the alcohol pre-load (trial set one) but was significantly greater following the alcohol pre-load (trial set two), although only in men and not women. Subjective sedation after the alcohol pre-load was attenuated during the smoking session in both men and women, but attenuated sedation due to smoking was related to subsequent alcohol-reinforced responding only in men. Additional research is needed to determine the extent to which these effects in men are pharmacological in nature or are conditioned responses to smoking or to consuming a preferred alcoholic beverage.

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