Although not directly relevant to vaping, this new study researchers from the University of Bristol shows how difficult it can be to quit smoking when loneliness is at the heart of our lives.
In a recent study by researchers from Bristol University and published in the journal Addiction, it has been discovered a causal link between the prolonged experience of loneliness and smoking. Although many studies have shown that there is indeed an association, it has been difficult to distinguish whether loneliness leads to smoking or if it is smoking that leads to loneliness.
Applying Mendelian randomization, a new research method that uses genetic data and surveys of hundreds of thousands of people, the team found that loneliness appeared to lead to an increased likelihood of smoking behavior.
« This method has never been applied to this question before and the results are therefore new, but also provisional. We have found some evidence to suggest that loneliness leads to increased smoking, with people more likely to start and smoke more cigarettes. Loneliness has been shown to increase the likelihood of starting to smoke, the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and decrease the likelihood of quitting successfully. This reflects trends seen during the pandemic, in fact, YouGov's Covid-19 tracker suggests that 2,2 million people in the UK smoke more today than before lockdown. In the other direction, there is also some evidence that getting into smoking increases the loneliness of individuals. »
» Our finding that smoking can lead to increased loneliness is tentative, yet it remains consistent with other recent studies that have identified smoking as a risk factor for poor mental health. A potential mechanism for this relationship has been observed: the nicotine contained in cigarette smoke interferes with neurotransmitters like dopamine in the brain. "Said the Dr Jorien Treur, lead author of the study.
Deborah Arnott, Executive Director of Action of Smoking & Health (ASH), stated that " if single people are more likely to start smoking and have a harder time quitting, they are also more likely to suffer from the harm from smoking. This research highlights the need for lonely smokers to receive support to quit, to improve not only their health and well-being but also to help reduce their loneliness. »
The team also studied the relationship between loneliness and alcohol use and abuse, and found no clear evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship.