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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2010 Jan 15;106(2-3):126-32. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2009.08.012. Epub 2009 Sep 17.

Nicotine dependence symptoms among recent onset adolescent smokers.

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  • 1Wesleyan University, Psychology Department, 207 High Street, Middletown, CT 06459, USA.


The present study examined the prevalence of individual nicotine dependence symptoms among recent onset smokers across the continuum of nondaily and daily cigarette smoking behavior in a nationally representative sample of recent onset smokers from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Rates of endorsement for 17 symptoms drawn primarily from the Nicotine Dependence Symptom Scale (Shiffman et al., 2004) were calculated for four levels of nondaily (smoked 1-3, 4-10, 11-20, or 21-29 days in the past 30 days) and daily (smoked 1, 2-5, 6-15, or >15 cigarettes per day in the past 30 days) smoking. Logistic and linear regression analyses with polynomial contrasts controlling for age, gender, length of exposure, and smoking quantity tested trends in symptom endorsement across levels of smoking. Significant linear and quadratic trends indicated that increasing rates of endorsement differed most between the lowest levels of nondaily and daily smoking. Results suggest that, for some, infrequent smoking may not represent benign experimentation. Recognizing early symptoms of nicotine dependence may assist in early identification and intervention of those at risk for heavier smoking in the future. Adolescents can be taught to recognize the early symptoms of nicotine dependence to increase awareness of the rapidity at which these symptoms may appear.

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