25th Annual Duke Nicotine Research Conference: Treating the Dark Side of Tobacco Addiction: Alleviating Physical and Emotional Pain
Emotional pain, including depression and anxiety, is a serious impediment to successful smoking cessation. Negative emotional states triggered by stressful life events are strongly linked to smoking relapse. Moreover, nicotine or tobacco withdrawal acutely elicits irritability, anxiety and depressed mood, that motivate smoking in order to obtain the negative reinforcement associated with relieving these negative mood states. Chronic physical pain is another serious impediment to successful smoking cessation; smokers with chronic pain relapse much faster than those who do not suffer from such pain. Further, over 20% of the U.S. population suffers from some form of chronic pain, and among smokers the percentage is even higher. In this population, pain and the associated psychological distress drives smoking behavior and precipitates smoking relapse. Interestingly, while nicotine acutely alleviates pain, chronic smoking exacerbates some chronic pain conditions. The intricate relationship between emotional and physical pain, nicotine and smoking cessation will be explored in this all-day symposium, where leading experts will present current research findings on this topic. Presentations will not only address underlying pharmacological and neurological mechanisms linking pain, emotional distress, nicotine and smoking, but will also include a discussion of new treatment avenues that specifically address quitting smoking in people suffering from "the dark side of tobacco addiction."