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March 2017

Behavioral and Pharmacological Strategies for Weakening Maladaptive Reward Memories: A New Approach to Treating a Core Disease Mechanism in Tobacco Use Disorder

Author Affiliations
  • 1Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, London, England
JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(3):209-211. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.3937

Tobacco use disorder is the leading cause of avoidable morbidity and mortality globally. To reduce the enormous personal, social, and health care costs associated with smoking-related diseases, there is a pressing need for innovation in the smoking cessation field. Existing therapies have limited long-term efficacy,1 perhaps because they fail to address the fundamental causal psychobiological processes that maintain relapse propensity in smokers. Even after successfully quitting, intense urges to smoke can be triggered unexpectedly by certain situations or cues, predisposing the abstinent smoker to relapse. Maladaptive reward memories, underlie such conditioned cravings and play a central role in persistent relapse-susceptibility in tobacco use disorder.

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