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Pharmacological Interventions for Heavy Drinking Smokers

Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Investigator(s): Lara Ray, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2009 (Cycle 18) Grant #: 18KT-0020H Award: $283,371
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: New Investigator Awards

Initial Award Abstract
Smokers who drink heavily have a more difficult time quitting smoking. In fact, smokers who drink heavily are five times more likely to relapse into smoking during drinking days than on non-drinking days. Treatments for these smokers who drink heavily may require new approaches that can help them with both drinking and smoking problems. This New Investigator study will combine a medication that have been shown helpful for smoking, called veranicline and a medication that helps individuals reduce their drinking, called naltrexone. In this study, smokers who drink heavily will be assigned to one of the following medication groups: (1) varenicline only; (2) naltrexone only; (3) varenicline plus naltrexone; (4) placebo (a sugar pill). Smokers will come to the laboratory after abstaining from smoking for 12 hours. In the laboratory we will measure their symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and their desire to smoke during this abstinence period. We will then ask them to have an alcoholic drink and will again measure their symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and their desire to drink. Then, we will ask them to smoke a cigarette in the laboratory and to report on how much they enjoyed smoking the cigarette. This study will test whether these medications, alone and in combination, help alleviate nicotine withdrawal and urge to smoke, and whether they reduce the positive effects of cigarettes. We will also study genes that may predict who responds better to each medication. This research is designed to improve medication treatments for smoking cessation among smokers who drink heavily, as they represent a large and hard-to-treat group of smokers.