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Teen (Adolescent) Smokers Have Difficulty Quitting, Similar to Adults

Update Date: Sep 13, 2012 08:59 AM EDT

Addictions are hard to kick. Period. No matter how old you are or what you are addicted to, you are not a willful prisoner to your addiction; rather you are subjugated by a certain substance, thing or activity that by definition can or does take up your time and energy.

Teen tobacco addiction is no less serious than tobacco addiction at any other age. A new study finds that during early tobacco addiction, teens experience many of the same negative withdrawal symptoms associated with cessation. The points of differences however can be used to establish effective psychological treatment programs for teens that choose to quit.

"Adolescents are showing - even relatively early in the dependence process - significant, strong, negative effects just after acute abstinence from smoking," explains L. Cinnamon Bidwell, assistant research professor in psychiatry and human behavior and the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.

In a controlled experiment, early smokers who abstained for just a day exhibited the same symptoms of smoking withdrawal similar to abstaining adults, higher cravings to smoke, irritabilit, and increased appetite; Despite the fact the teens have not been smoking as long as heavy adult smokers, nor do they smoke the same amount of cigarettes per day, the extent of withdrawal is the same.

According to the study published online 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.

"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)."

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