Effects of Transdermal Nicotine During Imaginal Exposure to Anxiety and Smoking Cues in College Smokers

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In a 2 (patch) × 2 (smoking) × 2 (anxiety) mixed design, 52 undergraduate smokers randomly received a nicotine (21 mg) or placebo patch. After a 4-hr nicotine absorption/deprivation period, participants imagined several scenarios varying in cue content: (a) anxiety plus smoking, (b) anxiety, (c) smoking, and (d) neutral. Although smoking urge increased in both the nicotine and placebo conditions after the absorption/deprivation period, those who received the placebo reported significantly greater urge. During the cue reactivity trials, a significant Patch × Smoking × Anxiety interaction effect was observed for urge. However, participants who received nicotine still experienced moderate urges, indicating that nicotine did not attenuate cue-elicited urge. Transdermal nicotine did not diminish anxiety during the absorption/deprivation period or in response to the cues.

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