Also Sober & Stoptober: handy or not?

16 Oct 2021 / Topical / Background

Did you take on the double challenge this month and did you also take a smoke break in addition to an alcohol break? Then you are healthy and smart, because this double challenge does not appear to require double effort. In fact, without alcohol it is better to stay away from that cigarette, and vice versa. Why is that anyway?

In addition to a drinking break, also take a smoking break, it sounds difficult. Yet researchers at Oregon State University have discovered several links between alcohol and nicotine intake and it turns out that (temporarily) stopping one helps to avoid the other.

Seduction over and over

Both full-time and occasional smokers will agree: a cigarette tastes even better with a beer or wine. For many people a drink 'belongs' to a cigarette. In fact, as soon as you drink alcohol, the craving for a cigarette immediately sets in. This is not surprising, because the reward system in your brain reacts strongly to both substances. Both alcohol and nicotine increase the concentration of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine gives you an instant good feeling, this feeling is even stronger when you take both drugs together. By stopping with one, it is better to stay away from the other.

In addiction care, quitting smoking when someone wants to stop with alcohol (or another substance) has been advised for some time. Previously, this was seen as too stressful: the anxiety of quitting smoking would have a negative influence on the drug habit. It has since been shown that quitting tobacco even lowers the relapse rate after treatment.


New habit takes more energy

Because your drink and cigarette are so connected in your head, drinking alcohol without a cigarette requires an extra effort in terms of behaviour: your brain then has to learn a whole new habit: drinking alcohol without a cigarette. Moreover, alcohol has a disinhibiting effect: it reduces your self-control and makes you more impulsive. By not drinking alcohol at all, you make it easier on yourself. After all, you don't have to learn a new habit, but 'just' leave a habit. This makes OokSober the ideal time to test whether you can also leave the cigarette.

Damping effect

Another interesting connection is that smoking dampens the negative effects of drinking (such as getting drunk). According to scientists at the University of Missouri, this has to do with the fact that nicotine in combination with alcohol has a stimulant effect. This compensates for the fatigue that occurs when drinking alcohol. So when you smoke a cigarette with your wine, the alcohol has less effect. This leads more quickly to a vicious circle of drinking and smoking. By not drinking and smoking you protect yourself twice against the risk of a huge hangover the next day.

Better protected against the risks of smoking and drinking

Now you know why combining OokSober and Stoptober is a great plan. And are you curious about the health benefits of a double (long) break? Then read 'Drinking and smoking often go hand in hand'!

Good luck with your Fittober!

Resources consulted for this article are:,, and







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