Smoking is associated with neurocognitive deficits in alcoholism

Jennifer M. Glass, Kenneth M. Adams, Joel T. Nigg, Maria M. Wong, Leon I. Puttler, Anne Buu, Jennifer M. Jester, Hiram E. Fitzgerald, Robert A. Zucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background: Impaired problem solving, visual-spatial processing, memory, and cognitive proficiency are consequences of severe alcoholism. Smoking is much more prevalent among alcoholics than the general population, yet the possible neurocognitive effects of cigarette smoking in alcoholism have not been studied, despite evidence that long-term smoking is associated with neurocognitive deficits. Objective: Determine whether smoking contributes to neurocognitive deficits associated with alcoholism. Design: Neurocognitive function was examined in a community-recruited (n = 172) sample of men. Alcohol problems/alcoholism were measured by the lifetime alcohol problems score (LAPS), DSM-IV diagnosis, and monthly drinking rate. Smoking was measured in pack-years. Neurocognitive function was measured with IQ (short version of WAIS-R), and cognitive proficiency (fast, accurate performance). Results: Both alcoholism and smoking were negatively correlated with neurocognitive function. When alcoholism and smoking were included in regression models, smoking remained a significant predictor for both measures, but alcoholism remained significant only for IQ. Conclusions: Both smoking and alcoholism were related to neurocognitive function. Smoking may explain some of the relationship between alcoholism and neurocognitive function, perhaps especially for measures that focus on proficiency. Future studies are necessary to more fully understand the effects of smoking on neurocognitive function in alcoholism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-126
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 28 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcoholism
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Cognitive function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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