Working Memory Moderates the Association Between Smoking Urge and Smoking Lapse Behavior After Alcohol Administration in a Laboratory Analogue Task

Nicotine Tob Res. 2015 Sep;17(9):1173-7. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntu259. Epub 2014 Dec 6.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Craving
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term* / drug effects
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Smoking Prevention*