What happens when nonsmokers wear nicotine patches?

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The subjective experience of nicotine, which may be influenced by personality traits as well as environmental factors, may be important for understanding the factors associated with the initiation and maintenance of nicotine dependence. The present study examined the effects of 7 mg transdermal nicotine among a relatively large sample (n = 91; 44 women) of college-aged nonsmokers. Using a placebo controlled, double-blind, within-subjects design, nicotine’s effects were examined at rest and again after participants completed a sustained attention task. Sex and personality factors (Behavioral Inhibition and Behavioral Approach; BIS/BAS Scales; Carver & White, 1994) were examined as potential moderators. Overall, the effects of nicotine were generally modest and unpleasant. In the context of the cognitive task, nicotine increased nausea and negative affect but reduced fatigue, relative to placebo. In contrast, effects of nicotine during the initial 4 hr of patch administration, in which participants were in their natural environments, were moderated by individual differences in behavioral approach. Neither behavioral inhibition nor gender reliably moderated any subjective effects of nicotine. The present work suggests transdermal nicotine exerts only modest, mostly negative effects among nonsmokers. Future work should examine both contextual and personality moderators in large samples of participants who are exposed to nicotine through multiple routes of administration.

Source: “Subjective effects of transdermal nicotine among nonsmokers.” from Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology

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