Socially anxious smokers experience greater negative affect and withdrawal during self-quit attempts

Julia D Buckner, Kirsten J Langdon, Emily R Jeffries, Michael J Zvolensky
Addictive Behaviors 2016, 55: 46-9
Despite evidence of a strong and consistent relation between smoking and elevated social anxiety, strikingly little empirical work has identified mechanisms underlying the smoking-social anxiety link. Persons with elevated social anxiety may rely on smoking to cope with more severe nicotine withdrawal and post-quit negative mood states; yet, no known studies have investigated the relation of social anxiety to withdrawal severity. The current study examined the relation of social anxiety to post-quit nicotine withdrawal severity among 51 (33.3% female, Mage = 34.6) community-recruited smokers during the first two weeks following an unaided (i.e., no treatment) cessation attempt. Ecological momentary assessment was used to collect multiple daily ratings of withdrawal and negative mood states. Baseline social anxiety was related to increases in negative affect during the monitoring period and remained significantly related to post-quit withdrawal after controlling for negative affect, gender, lapses, and substance use. Persons with elevated social anxiety experience more severe post-quit withdrawal symptoms and increases in negative affect during a cessation attempt and may therefore benefit from intervention and treatment strategies geared toward helping them learn to cope with withdrawal and negative affect to improve cessation rates among these vulnerable smokers.

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