Smoking behavior and alcohol consumption in individuals with panic attacks

Amanda R Mathew, Peter Joseph Norton, Michael J Zvolensky, Julia D Buckner, Jasper A J Smits

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Individuals with anxiety often report greater smoking and drinking behaviors relative to those without a history of anxiety. In particular, smoking and alcohol use have been directly implicated among individuals experiencing panic attacks, diagnosed with panic disorder, or high on panic-relevant risk factors such as anxiety sensitivity. Less is known, however, about specific features of panic that may differentiate among those who do or do not use cigarettes or alcohol. The purpose of the current study was to replicate previous research findings of an association between panic symptomatology, cigarette smoking, and alcohol consumption, as well as extend findings by examining whether specific symptoms of panic attacks differentiated among those who do or do not use cigarettes or alcohol. Participants (n = 489) completed the Panic Attack Questionnaire-IV, a highly detailed assessment of panic attacks and symptoms, as well as self-report measures of smoking history and alcohol use. Consistent with previous research, participants who reported a history of panic attacks (n = 107) were significantly more likely to report current daily or lifetime daily cigarette smoking, and significantly greater hazardous or harmful alcohol use than participants with no panic history (n = 382). Although smoking and hazardous alcohol use were highly associated regardless of panic status, participants with panic attacks showed elevated hazardous alcohol use after controlling for daily or lifetime smoking. Surprisingly, although participants who reported having had at least one panic attack were more likely to smoke, panic attack symptoms, intensity, or frequency did not differentiate panickers who did or did not smoke. Furthermore, panic-related variables were not shown to differentially relate to problematic drinking among panickers. Implications for understanding the complex relationship between panic attacks and smoking and drinking behaviors are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61 - 70
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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