Nicotine may be used to manage negative emotions, and recent research suggests that smokers with high levels of hostility may use cigarettes to cope with anger provoking situations. This study evaluated the extent to which a high level of trait anger is associated with risk for relapse among smokers interested in cessation. Chronic smokers with different levels of trait anger provided reports of withdrawal symptoms, craving, and state anger, and collected saliva samples for cortisol during 24-hour ad libitum smoking and the first 24-hour abstinence period of a quit attempt. They also attended a laboratory session conducted after the 24-hour abstinence during which they performed brief mental and social stress challenges and provided blood samples for adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) and cortisol assays. High trait anger was associated with greater increases in state anger, withdrawal symptoms, and craving during the first 24 h of abstinence. It was also associated with greater ACTH concentrations during the laboratory session. High trait anger was also associated with increased risk for early relapse. The findings support the hypothesis that smokers high in anger trait may have greater mood difficulties during abstinence and may be more vulnerable to early relapse than smokers with low anger trait.
- HPA axis