Rationale: Higher rates of delay discounting, or impulsive choice, may be related to relapse during abstinence reinforcement interventions for cigarette smoking, and a transdermal nicotine patch may attenuate delay discounting. Objective: The objectives of this study are to assess the relation between delay discounting and smoking after nicotine deprivation in a laboratory model of abstinence reinforcement and the effects of a transdermal nicotine patch on discounting and smoking. Materials and methods: Smokers with no self-reported intention to quit were randomly assigned to an active (14 mg) or placebo patch group (n = 15 per group). In each of three sessions, after a 3-h deprivation period, participants completed a delay discounting task, mood, and craving measures and finally engaged in a laboratory model of abstinence reinforcement. Three abstinence reinforcement conditions were presented in counterbalanced order across the three sessions. During the control session, monetary consequences were delivered every 30 s regardless of smoking. During the low ($5.00 available) and high ($20.00 available) sessions, participants could earn a progressively increasing amount of money for each 30 s period of abstinence. Results: The low and high conditions significantly increased the latency to smoke relative to control and significantly decreased the amount of smoking. The nicotine patch decreased negative affect, but it did not significantly affect delay discounting or smoking. Individuals who smoked during the low and high conditions showed higher rates of discounting. Conclusion: The patch did not attenuate delay discounting or smoking after a period of deprivation, but contingencies for abstinence significantly decreased smoking. Higher rates of delay discounting were related to smoking in a model of abstinence reinforcement treatment.
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