Tobacco Use Disorder: Psychological Factors

Tobacco use is a learned behavior, and several prominent learning theories—behavioral, cognitive, and social—have been posited to explain the development and maintenance of tobacco use disorder.

Behavioral Learning Theory

Behavioral learning theory suggests that tobacco use is a product of its consequences. In the early stages of use, nicotine from tobacco may produce effects such as increased arousal and improved performance, as well as relief from stress and anxiety. Such immediate positive effects reinforce the future use of tobacco, referred to as positive reinforcement. Over time, however, tolerance to the effects of nicotine develops. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), tolerance refers to the need to increase the amount of tobacco consumed over time to achieve a desired effect. During ...

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