A preliminary study on the effect of combined nicotine replacement therapy on alcohol responses and alcohol self-administration



Background and Objectives

Limiting alcohol consumption may help prevent alcohol-mediated smoking relapse in heavy drinking smokers. This pilot study examined whether combining a nicotine patch with nicotine nasal spray has stronger attenuating effects on alcohol response and consumption than a nicotine patch alone.


Twenty-two non-alcohol dependent heavy drinking smokers completed the double-blind cross-over, placebo-controlled study (21 mg nicotine patch + nicotine or placebo nasal spray). Six hours after 21mg nicotine patch application, subjective and physiological responses to a priming drink (0.3 g/kg) were assessed, followed by two 1-hr alcohol self-administration periods, with possible consumption of up to 4 drinks per period (each 0.15 g/kg). Nasal spray (1 mg [active] or 0 mg [placebo] per dose) was administered 10 min prior to the priming dose and each self-administration period.


Active nasal spray did not increase serum nicotine levels, compared with placebo administration. The number of drinks consumed did not differ by the nasal spray conditions. However, positive subjective responses to the priming drink were lower in the active nasal spray condition than the placebo nasal spray condition. During the self-administration period, urge to drink was also lower in the active spray condition than the placebo condition.

Conclusions and Scientific Significance

Augmenting the nicotine patch with nicotine nasal spray attenuated positive subjective alcohol response and craving and suggests that future studies should investigate whether these findings translate to a clinical setting. (Am J Addict 2013;22:590–597)