Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Alaska (Peterson, Fenaughty, & Everhart-Philips, 2004). In 2002, Alaska was second in the U.S. in smoking prevalence, with 29% of adults reporting that they smoked some days or every day, with the highest prevalence rates reported among American Indians and Alaska Natives (CDC, 2003). In Alaska, 32% of smokers report current binge drinking, compared to 14% of non-smokers (Peterson, Fenaughty, & Everhart-Philips, 2004). Individuals who abuse alcohol are more likely to smoke, more likely to be heavily dependent on nicotine, less likely to quit smoking, and more likely to experience serious health consequences than individuals without those conditions. Alaska bears a heavy burden in health, economic and social costs related to dependence on nicotine and other substances, making innovative research into the intersection of tobacco and substance dependence of great public health importance.
Nicotine dependence is presumed to be the primary mechanism underlying continued tobacco use despite a desire to quit smoking and attempts to quit smoking. However, many researchers are beginning to question whether traditional conceptualizations and measures of nicotine dependence capture the phenomenology of nicotine dependence, especially for individuals with other addictions. Understanding the relationship between nicotine dependence and smoking motives is a first step toward enhancing the efficacy and effectiveness of tobacco cessation interventions and reducing the health impact of tobacco use among individuals addicted to other substances.
The objective of this exploratory study, funded by an award from the UAA Chancellor's Fund for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity, is to examine relationships among nicotine dependence, smoking motives, and dependence upon other substances. One hundred current smokers in outpatient alcohol treatment will participate by completing a comprehensive assessment of smoking history and motives, nicotine dependence, and history of alcohol and drug use. This study will increase our understanding of the interaction between dependence upon nicotine and other substances of abuse.