A new study has shown that calls to smokers’ quitlines may identify problem drinkers as well. The Yale study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, surveyed over 88,000 calls the New York Smokers Quitline, and found that nearly a quarter of the callers also revealed harmful drinking patterns.
The study’s author, Benjamin Toll, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and director of Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven’s Smoking Cessation Service said, “Once people start drinking, there is a trigger to start smoking, they lose their inhibition to tobacco.”
Past studies have indicated that problem drinking can decrease the probability that a smoker will quit cigarettes, and that alcohol intervention integrated into smoking cessation programs may increase the likelihood of success. Callers to the smokers hotline participate in a short, 10-15 minute interview in which they are asked about their current and past smoking habits.
Dr. Toll says that his next study will focus on whether adding five minutes of alcohol abuse counseling to quitline conversations can boost smoking cessation rates.