, Volume 184, Issue 3, pp 637–644

Reduction of abstinence-induced withdrawal and craving using high-dose nicotine replacement therapy


    • University of Pittsburgh
    • Pinney Associates
    • Smoking Research Group
  • Stuart G. Ferguson
    • University of Pittsburgh
    • Pinney Associates
  • Chad J. Gwaltney
    • Brown University
  • Mark H. Balabanis
    • San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy
  • William G. Shadel
    • University of Pittsburgh
Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-005-0184-3

Cite this article as:
Shiffman, S., Ferguson, S.G., Gwaltney, C.J. et al. Psychopharmacology (2006) 184: 637. doi:10.1007/s00213-005-0184-3



Decreasing withdrawal and craving during smoking cessation is a major aim of cessation medications. Prior studies have shown that Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) decreases withdrawal symptom severity but have relied on retrospective reports and lacked robust measures of baseline symptoms or symptoms during unmedicated abstinence.

Objectives and methods

We tested the effect of high-dose (35 mg) nicotine patch on withdrawal and craving during abstinence using real-time assessment with electronic diaries during ad libitum smoking, a brief period of experimentally directed trial abstinence, and the first 3 days of cessation. Subjects were 324 smokers randomized to high-dose nicotine patches or placebo.


Treatment with active patches reduced withdrawal and craving during cessation and completely eliminated deprivation-related changes in affect or concentration.


High-dose NRT reduces withdrawal symptoms and craving and can eliminate some symptoms entirely.


Transdermal nicotine replacementWithdrawalSmoking cessation

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005