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Review
, (4), CD002849

Anxiolytics for Smoking Cessation

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Review

Anxiolytics for Smoking Cessation

J R Hughes et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev.

Abstract

Background: There are two reasons to believe anxiolytics might help in smoking cessation. Anxiety may be a symptom of nicotine withdrawal. Second, smoking appears to be due, in part, to deficits in dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, all of which are increased by anxiolytics and antidepressants.

Objectives: The aim of this review is to assess the effectiveness of anxiolytic drugs in aiding long term smoking cessation. The drugs include buspirone; diazepam; doxepin; meprobamate; ondansetron; and the beta-blockers metoprolol, oxprenolol and propanolol.

Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group trials register which includes trials indexed in Medline, Embase, SciSearch and PsycLit, and meetings abstracts.

Selection criteria: We considered randomized trials comparing anxiolytic drugs to placebo or an alternative therapeutic control for smoking cessation. We excluded trials with less than 6 months follow-up.

Data collection and analysis: We extracted data in duplicate on the type of study population, the nature of the drug therapy, the outcome measures, method of randomisation, and completeness of follow-up. The main outcome measure was abstinence from smoking after at least six months follow-up in patients smoking at baseline. We used the most rigorous definition of abstinence for each trial, and biochemically validated rates if available. Where appropriate, we performed meta-analysis using a fixed effects model.

Main results: There was one trial each of the anxiolytics diazepam, meprobamate, metoprolol and oxprenolol. There were two trials of the anxiolytic buspirone. None of the trials showed strong evidence of an effect for any of these drugs in helping smokers to quit. However, confidence intervals were wide, and an effect of anxiolytics cannot be ruled out on current evidence.

Reviewer's conclusions: There is no consistent evidence that anxiolytics aid smoking cessation, but the available evidence does not rule out a possible effect.

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