Aims. To assess the changes in cigarette smoking and coffee drinking after alcohol detoxification in alcoholics. Design. Evaluation at admission and an average 16 days following discharge. Setting. Alcohol detoxification inpatient programme. Participants. Seventy-three alcohol dependent (DSM-III-R) inpatients . Measurements. Average number of cigarettes and of cups of coffee per day; urine cotinine level. Smokers were classified as moderate on the basis of consuming fewer than 30 cigarettes per day at the time of admission; heavy smokers were those who smoked 30 cigarettes per day or more. Findings. As a group, the smokers (N=58) did not significantly change their cigarette consumption and there was no change in urine cotinine level. Heavy smokers (N=34), however, significantly decreased their cigarette consumption, but urine cotinine was unchanged. Moderate smokers (N=24) significantly increased their cigarette consumption but urine cotinine was not significantly changed. All patients-non-smokers, moderate and heavy smokers-significantly increased their coffee intake. Conclusions. The results suggest that heavy smokers may react to alcohol cues and thus reduce smoking activity when sober. Moderate smokers may increase their smoking rate to cope with alcohol abstinence. These changes appear only to reflect a behavioural adjustment, without modification of patients' nicotine-seeking. Alcoholics may increase their coffee intake to cope with alcohol abstinence.