Effects of Anxiety on Withdrawal and Cravings During Smoking Abstinence
Authors:Guadalupe Bacio, Suzanna Osuna, Lara Ray
Mentor:Lara Ray, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of California Los Angeles
Existing research indicates that psychological traits are solid predictors of an individual’s ability to quit smoking. Recent findings reveal that nicotine’s positive effects are heightened when combined with alcohol. Such research raises questions about whether the combined effects of alcohol and psychological traits would increase the desire to smoke. This study investigated the relationship between anxiety disorders, alcohol consumption, and experiences of withdrawal and cravings during smoking abstinence. Data was culled from a study of heavy-drinking daily smokers that assessed the efficacy of varenicline and naltrexone as smoking cessation medications. Participants (N=120) were non-treatment-seeking, heavy-drinking, daily smokers. They completed a baseline session at which the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) was administered to assess the severity of anxiety disorders. Prior to their second visit, participants had abstained from nicotine and alcohol for 12 hours. During the second visit, participants ingested an alcoholic drink and subsequently completed the Minnesota Nicotine Withdrawal Scale (MNWS) and the Cigarette Craving and Mood Questionnaire (CCMQ). Regression analyses explored the relationship between participants’ baseline BAI scores and their scores on the MNWS and the CCMQ after having a drink of alcohol. The severity of anxiety had a main effect on the severity of smoking withdrawal (F=9.52, p=0.0026) and cigarette cravings (F=4.98, p=0.028). Among severely anxious people gender differences were also found in cigarette craving after drinking alcohol (F=5.37, p=0.022). These results suggest that individual anxiety levels are posible predictors of the severity of withdrawal and cigarette craving.