Reactivity to instructed smoking availability and environmental cues: evidence with urge and reaction time

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 1998 Feb;6(1):45-53. doi: 10.1037//1064-1297.6.1.45.


Reactivity to drug-related cues has been proposed as a possible mechanism to explain maintenance of drug use and relapse. This study examined whether cognitions associated with drug use (the belief that nicotine is available for use) also elicit reactivity. Smokers (N = 132) were randomly assigned in a 2 (Smoking Availability) x 2 (Smoking Stimuli) factorial design. Reactivity was measured by self-reported urge and probe reaction time. A main effect for availability was found in that participants who had been told that they could smoke shortly reported greater urges than those who had been told that smoking would not be permitted for 3 hr. Moreover, smoking-related stimuli produced increases in urge ratings only when participants had been told that smoking would be available shortly. Probe reaction time, in contrast, increased in the presence of smoking stimuli only when participants were told that cigarettes were unavailable. The theoretical and treatment implications of drug availability as a moderator of cue reactivity, as well as the utility of reaction time as an index if drug use motivation, are discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology
  • Cues*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Smoking / psychology*