The Abstinence Violation Effect Following Smoking Lapses and Temptations

Abstract

We evaluated abstinence violation effects (AVEs) (a constellation of negative reactions to a lapse) following an initial lapse to smoking in 105 recent lapsers, and in temptation episodes from these lapsers and from 35 maintainers. Participants used palm-top computers to record AVE data within minutes of the episode, thus avoiding retrospective bias. Lapses resulted in increased negative affect and decreased self-efficacy; participants also felt guilty and discouraged. Lapsers who attributed their lapse to more controllable causes felt worse and more guilty; attributions did not otherwise moderate affective or efficacy reactions. AVE intensity was unrelated to amount smoked, length of abstinence, or performance of immediate or restorative coping. Temptations neither provoked an AVE nor enhanced self-efficacy in either lapsers or maintainers. Maintainers' reactions to temptations were nearly identical to lapsers', except that maintainers felt worse. The data demonstrate the reality of AVE reactions, but do not support hypotheses about their structure or determinants.

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Correspondence to Saul Shiffman.

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Shiffman, S., Hickcox, M., Paty, J.A. et al. The Abstinence Violation Effect Following Smoking Lapses and Temptations. Cognitive Therapy and Research 21, 497–523 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1021853301255

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  • smoking
  • relapse
  • abstinence violation effect
  • drug dependence