Abstinence from smoking seems to affect teens differently than adults in a couple of ways, but a new study provides evidence that most of the psychological difficulties of quitting are as strong for relatively new, young smokers as they are for adults who have been smoking much longer.
“Adolescents are showing — even relatively early in the dependence process — significant, strong, negative effects just after acute abstinence from smoking,” said L. Cinnamon Bidwell, assistant professor (research) in psychiatry and human behavior and the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. “Our study shows what those specific effects are. We chose a broad array” of factors to study.
Adolescents show significant, strong, negative effects when they abstain from smoking — even early in the dependence process.In controlled experiments, teens who abstained for nearly a day experienced withdrawal symptoms, smoking urges, exacerbations of negative mood, and higher provoked cravings at levels similar to those previously measured in abstaining adults, according to the study published online Sept. 4 in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research. Teens who abstained did differ from adults on two measures however: They didn’t become more irritated by certain test sounds and they didn’t lose the capacity to still feel happy (“positive affect” in the study’s parlance).
“In terms of the subjective negative reactions and the urge reactions, their patterns look remarkably similar to adults,” said Suzanne Colby, associate professor (research) in psychiatry and human behavior and at the center. “That is really interesting because they are smoking fewer cigarettes per day and they’ve just been smokers for a shorter period of time.”
To conduct the research, lead author Bidwell, senior author Colby, and their team measured a variety of psychological effects on 96 teens aged 13 to 19 in three experimental groups: 22 nonsmokers, 47 smokers whom they asked to abstain for almost a full day, and 27 smokers whom they allowed to continue smoking. On average the teen smokers coming into the study consumed about nine cigarettes a day and had been smoking for about two years.
The researchers made the psychological measurements using standardized methods at two sessions with each group. For the abstainers the first session occurred before abstention and the second occurred during it. The researchers measured the smokers’ expired carbon monoxide levels in breath samples at the first session to establish a baseline and again at the second session to confirm whether abstinence, or continued smoking, had indeed occurred.
Among the team’s findings was the surprising degree to which abstaining teens felt cravings even when presented with supposedly neutral cues. Their measured craving levels, even when “provoked” with cues as innocuous as a pencil and pad of paper, were about as high as when they were shown overt smoking cues, such as a lit cigarette of their favorite brand.
“They came in and their craving and negative affect were already high,” Colby said.
What the researchers observed, therefore, was not that abstaining teens have an elevated level of craving when shown smoking cues versus neutral ones, but that their craving level is elevated almost regardless of experimental cues. But when the researchers compared abstainers to peers who either don’t smoke at all, or who didn’t have to stop smoking, the abstainers did exhibit a stronger “peak” reaction from smoking-specific cues than the other teens did.
Ultimately, Bidwell and Colby hope the research will inform efforts to make smoking cessation and withdrawal treatment more effective for teens. Would it help, they ask, if treatment tried to mitigate these measurable difficulties of abstaining?
“Our findings point to withdrawal, urge (both un-cued and peak provoked), and negative affect (both un-cued and peak provoked) as candidate mediators for treatment efficacy in adolescents and suggest that future treatment trials should be designed to test mediation through these mechanisms,” the authors wrote. “It remains unclear whether the lack of efficacy emerges because these treatments do not effectively reduce abstinence effects or, alternatively, because the theoretical approach is incorrect (e.g. these treatments are effective at reducing abstinence effects but reducing the negative effects abstinence does not improve cessation outcomes).”
But now researchers have a better understanding of what those negative effects of abstinence are for teens; most of those negative effects are just as intense for young, new smokers as for older, more experienced ones.
In addition to Bidwell and Colby, other authors are Jennifer Tidey and Linda Brazil of Brown, Raymond Niaura of Brown and The Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies, and Adam Leventhal of the University of Southern California.
The National Cancer Institute funded the research.
Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476.
David Orenstein | EurekAlert!
The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.01.2017 | Life Sciences
24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine