New Study Aims to Reduce Heavy Drinking Among Smokers

April 16, 2012 @ 4:00 am
New York, NY – The combination of medication and behavioral counseling may be an effective treatment for alcohol dependent smokers, according to a study led by Dr. Allen Zweben, Associate Dean of Research and Academic Affairs and Professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work.  Funded by a four-year, $983,426 RO1 grant from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the study aims to test the efficacy of biopsychosocial intervention for the treatment of alcohol dependence among individuals who also report daily cigarette smoking.  
The study is a multi-site collaborative study being conducted with the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine.  The intervention will be tested at the Substance Abuse Treatment Center at Yale and Parallax Center, a New York State licensed chemical dependency treatment program. Dr. Stephanie O’Malley, Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, is the collaborating principal investigator (PI) in this multi-site trial. The sample will be comprised of 160 alcohol dependent smokers. The intervention will be implemented over 16-week period and the effectiveness of the medication and behavioral treatment will be assessed for one-year after randomization.  
“Alcohol dependent smokers have poorer alcoholism treatment outcomes and experience greater mortality than alcohol dependent nonsmokers,” says Dr. Zweben. “The strong association between smoking and alcohol dependence suggests that common underlying factors may provide a therapeutic target for alcohol and nicotine use. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors are the primary target of nicotine, and these receptors are involved in alcohol dependence. The potential benefits of the interventions, if confirmed, would represent a significant advance for the treatment of alcohol dependent smokers.”
For more information about the study, please contact Allen Zweben at 212-851-2387 or