Introduction: Lapses after smoking cessation often occur in the context of alcohol use, possibly because alcohol increases urge to smoke. Poor working memory, or alcohol-induced decrements in working memory, may influence this relationship by making it more difficult for an individual to resist smoking in the face of smoking urges.
Methods: Participants (n = 41) completed measures of working memory and urge to smoke before and after alcohol administration (placebo, 0.4 g/kg, and 0.8 g/kg, within subjects) and then participated in a laboratory analogue task in which smoking abstinence was monetarily incentivized.
Results: Working memory moderated the relationship between smoking urge and latency to smoke: for those with relatively poorer working memory, urge to smoke was more strongly and negatively associated with latency to smoke (i.e., higher urges were associated with shorter latency).
Conclusions: Those with weak working memory may need additional forms of treatment to help them withstand smoking urges.
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