Behavioural Studies in Humans: Anxiety, Stress and Smoking

  1. Greg Bock Organizer and
  2. Joan Marsh
  1. Ovide F. Pomerleau and
  2. Cynthia S. Pomerleau

Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470513965.ch13

Ciba Foundation Symposium 152 - The Biology of Nicotine Dependence

Ciba Foundation Symposium 152 - The Biology of Nicotine Dependence

How to Cite

Pomerleau, O. F. and Pomerleau, C. S. (2007) Behavioural Studies in Humans: Anxiety, Stress and Smoking, in Ciba Foundation Symposium 152 - The Biology of Nicotine Dependence (eds G. Bock and J. Marsh), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470513965.ch13

Author Information

  1. Behavioral Medicine Program, University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry Riverview Building, 900 Wall Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471926887

Online ISBN: 9780470513965

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Keywords:

  • anxiety;
  • stress;
  • smoking;
  • nicotine dependence;
  • human behavior

Summary

Numerous observers have reported that smokers smoke more under stressful conditions. The most frequent explanation is that nicotine reduces anxiety, an intervening variable identified as a negative reinforcer for smoking behaviour. The conditions under which anxiety reduction occurs in response to smoking, however, have not been well defined, nor are underlying mechanisms well understood. There are several possible explanations, including Schachter's theory based on stress-induced changes in urinary pH and the hypothesis of endogenous opioid involvement. The work of Collins and his associates in animals has shown that genetic variations in corticosteroid responsiveness to nicotine are associated with differences in sensitivity to nicotine. Research in our laboratory has extended to humans Collins' findings that sensitivity to nicotine is inversely related to corticosteroid activity. We also found that the combination of a psychological stressor and smoking produced additive effects on cortisol release in humans. These findings suggest a novel way of explaining the interaction between smoking and stress, in that increased nicotine intake in the context of stress may in part reflect behavioural compensation for diminished sensitivity to nicotine when corticosteroid activity is enhanced by the stressor.