Understanding The Link Between Smoking And Alcohol Abuse
Despite their known health impacts, smoking and drinking typically go hand in hand in social settings, opening the possibility for a link that explains why individuals are more likely to do one when they’re doing the other.
For employers, this can be a cause for concern as both habits have detrimental effects on employee health, leading to increased absenteeism, high healthcare costs, and decreased productivity. In an observational study, researchers noted that smoking and drinking are also related to presenteeism, or the practice of going to work despite poor health, resulting in subpar performance.
Below, we’ll delve into some of the reasons why smoking encourages people to drink more and vice versa and how organizations can help employees quit these habits and improve their health.
Why Smoking Encourages People To Drink More And Vice Versa
Based on anecdotes from individuals who both smoke and drink, many do so due to the perceived reinforcing effect, with each substance enhancing the pleasurable sensations of the other. This dual stimulation can create a cycle where smoking prompts drinking and vice versa, which can make it more challenging to break.
In a study, neuroscientist and addiction expert Dr John Dani observed that the combination of nicotine and alcohol actually initiated a release of stress hormones that halted the release of dopamine. In other words, drinking and smoking release feel-good hormones if consumed separately, but together, they’ll do the opposite.
In terms of health consequences, research has shown that those who smoke and drink increase their risk of all-cause death more than non-smokers and non-drinkers or those who only drink or only smoke. This is in addition to the well-established health risks that come with smoking, like lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, to name a few.
As for employers, there are several reasons why they must prioritize helping employees quit smoking. For one, smoking negatively impacts employee health, leading to increased healthcare costs and decreased productivity. What’s more, smoke breaks can disrupt workflow and contribute to an unhealthy work environment. Additionally, this study found that quitting or decreasing tobacco consumption during alcohol use disorder treatment is associated with beneficial drinking outcomes, including reduced drinking, later relapse, and prolonged alcohol abstinence.
What Employers Can Do To Help Employees Quit Smoking
Employees can do the below to quit smoking:
Build An Effective Drug-Free Workplace Culture
A drug-free workplace culture promotes a healthy and safe environment while helping organizations avoid the negative consequences of substance abuse. More specifically, data from the American Lung Association estimates that employers can save nearly $6,000 per year for every employee who quits tobacco use.
We have several programs that focus on drug and alcohol awareness for this reason. To make the most out of these programs, employees must first assess the needs of their organization, develop a comprehensive curriculum, and choose the appropriate learning management system before launching the training program.
Offer Tobacco-Free Alternatives For Those Who Want To Quit
According to the American Cancer Society, less than 7% of those who want to quit can do so without any help whatsoever. To relieve withdrawal symptoms and help employees transition away from cigarettes, alternatives such as nicotine pouches can be greatly beneficial. Popular nicotine pouch brands like ZYN, which is available on this site, contain no tobacco and don’t require combustion to deliver nicotine to the system.
They also come in a variety of flavors like peppermint, citrus, and coffee, as well as 3mg and 6mg strengths so that they can be tailored based on the level of dependence, making tapering down on tobacco easier.
Alternatively, employers can look to pharmacotherapies such as varenicline and bupropion. Although they require a doctor’s prescription, according to experts, these quit medications have been found to help people kick the habit and stay on track for six months or longer.
Make Related Support Tools Available
Even simple interventions such as brief advice from a healthcare worker, telephone helplines, automated text messaging, and printed self-help materials can facilitate smoking cessation, according to advice from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
These are important considerations as the withdrawal period is usually accompanied by side effects such as weight gain, increased stress, and sleep disorders, all of which can make staying away from cigarettes more difficult.
For employers, this can mean providing support services such as stress management coaching, nutrition counseling, and fitness programs.
As your workplace moves towards becoming smoke-free, it’s important to remember that it’s not just about kicking a bad habit but building a positive environment where everyone can grow and succeed.
By supporting your employees in breaking free from smoking and alcohol abuse, you’re investing in their health and also in the overall success and well-being of your team. For more resources and training programs, check out our other offerings on Coggno.