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Addict Behav. 2008 Nov;33(11):1394-401. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2008.06.018. Epub 2008 Jul 2.

The role of negative affect in risk for early lapse among low distress tolerance smokers.

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Butler Hospital/Alpert Medical School of Brown University, 345 Blackstone Blvd., Providence, RI 02906, USA.


Individual differences in the ability to tolerate negative affect due to psychological and/or physical discomfort (e.g., distress tolerance) are emerging as an important predictor of smoking cessation outcomes. The purpose of this study was to build on existing evidence by exploring the relationship between levels of distress tolerance (DT) and negative affect on quit date in relation to risk for early lapse. Eighty-one smokers (48% female; M age=42.6 years) who completed laboratory-based, behavioral distress tolerance tasks prior to an unaided quit attempt were categorized into low, average, and high persistence on the tasks. Low persistence smokers were significantly more likely to lapse on the assigned quit day. Among smokers able to achieve abstinence on quit day, low persistence smokers demonstrated higher levels of negative affect and urges compared to high persistence smokers. Further, negative affect-related risk for early lapse was strongest among those with low persistence. These findings suggest that smokers low in distress tolerance may be particularly vulnerable to very early lapse to smoking and that increases in negative affect may contribute to the risk for early lapse in this high-risk group of smokers.

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