A group of pregnant women who wanted to quit smoking were more likely to succeed when their therapy included sessions that allowed them to experience stressful feelings in a safe environment, a new study reports.
Conducted by a team at the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions, the study involved 70 pregnant women who wanted to quit smoking and said they smoked in response to stress, anger and anxiety. A group that received emotion regulation treatment (ERT) along with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) did better on smoking outcomes than a control group that received CBT and health/lifestyle education.
The researchers emphasize that it is important to identify effective therapeutic strategies for pregnant women who smoke, because medications such as varenicline (Chantix) are not recommended for use during pregnancy.
The exposure-based ERT allowed participants to imagine stressful situations in session and then to experience the resulting feelings without smoking. Nearly one-quarter of the study group whose treatment included ERT was able to remain smoke-free two months later, while no participants in the control group achieved this. Even the ERT group members who were not able to quit reduced their smoking substantially compared with members of the other group.
Study results were published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.