Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and compromising smokers’ health. Despite the negative consequences, many smokers have difficulty quitting or even reducing tobacco use. In addition, many teenagers are added to the smoking roll each year and may be at risk for abuse of other substances. Because tobacco use is often thought of as a gateway to other drug use, reducing smoking might reduce the vulnerability of youths to cocaine and other drugs. Although public health campaigns may have decreased the number of smokers, current methods for aiding those who persist in smoking have had limited success. These failures may be a result of the inability to relieve withdrawal symptoms, stress, and cue-induced cravings, which often leads to drug seeking and taking. This urgent need calls for a short-term, effective intervention for reducing smoking behavior and cravings.
One reason for addiction to tobacco may involve a deficit in self-control. Self-control is important because the level of childhood self-control predicts long-term outcomes, including mental health, substance abuse, financial independence, and criminal behavior. Individuals at risk for substance abuse typically have deficits in self-control.
This interesting study recruited participants with smoking habits interested in general stress reduction and randomly assigned them to meditation training or a relaxation training control. Among smokers, 2 wk of meditation training (5 h in total) produced a significant reduction in smoking of 60%; no reduction was found in the relaxation control. Resting-state brain scans showed increased activity for the meditation group in the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortex, brain areas related to self-control. These results suggest that brief meditation training improves self-control capacity and reduces smoking, study suggests.