Critical needs in drug discovery for cessation of alcohol and nicotine polysubstance abuse

C. E. Van Skike, S. E. Maggio, A. R. Reynolds, E. M. Casey, M. T. Bardo, L. P. Dwoskin, M. A. Prendergast, K. Nixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Polysubstance abuse of alcohol and nicotine has been overlooked in our understanding of the neurobiology of addiction and especially in the development of novel therapeutics for its treatment. Estimates show that as many as 92% of people with alcohol use disorders also smoke tobacco. The health risks associated with both excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking create an urgent biomedical need for the discovery of effective cessation treatments, as opposed to current approaches that attempt to independently treat each abused agent. The lack of treatment approaches for alcohol and nicotine abuse/dependence mirrors a similar lack of research in the neurobiology of polysubstance abuse. This review discusses three critical needs in medications development for alcohol and nicotine co-abuse: (1) the need for a better understanding of the clinical condition (i.e. alcohol and nicotine polysubstance abuse), (2) the need to better understand how these drugs interact in order to identify new targets for therapeutic development and (3) the need for animal models that better mimic this human condition. Current and emerging treatments available for the cessation of each drug and their mechanisms of action are discussed within this context followed by what is known about the pharmacological interactions of alcohol and nicotine. Much has been and will continue to be gained from studying comorbid alcohol and nicotine exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-287
Number of pages19
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
StatePublished - Feb 4 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Alcohol
  • Alcoholism
  • Nicotine
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Polysubstance abuse
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Biological Psychiatry


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