The influence of acutely administered nicotine on cue-induced craving for gambling in at-risk video lottery terminal gamblers who smoke

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Evidence indicates that tobacco use and gambling often co-occur. Despite this association, little is known about how tobacco use affects the propensity to gamble. Nicotine, the putative addictive component of tobacco, has been reported to potentiate the hedonic value of other nonsmoking stimuli. Environmental cues have been identified as an important contributor to relapse in addictive behavior; however, the extent to which nicotine can affect the strength of gambling cues remains unknown. This study examined whether nicotine influences subjective ratings for gambling following gambling cues. In a mixed within/between-subjects design, 30 (20 men) video lottery terminal (VLT) gamblers (‘moderate-risk’ or ‘problem’ gamblers) who smoke daily were assigned to nicotine (4 mg deliverable) or placebo lozenge conditions. Subjective and behavioral responses were assessed at baseline, following lozenge, following neutral cues, and following presentation of gambling cues. Nicotine lozenge was found to significantly reduce tobacco-related cravings (P<0.05) but did not affect gambling-related cravings, the choice to play a VLT, or other subjective responses. These results suggest that a low dose of acutely administered nicotine does not increase cue-induced craving for gambling in at-risk VLT gamblers who smoke.

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