A new study suggests yet another use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in helping people change their behaviors, this time in the treatment of smokers who suffer depression after a heart attack and are using tobacco to cope. Smoking is a severe risk factor in cardiac arrest, but quitting can of course be very difficult. CBT plus good social support seems to significantly enhance one’s ability to abstain from tobacco.
Dr. Mickey Trockel of Stanford University Medical School report that CBT alone isn’t generally enough to assist smokers in quitting, but that CBT in the context of a good social support system does greatly improve the chances of people trying to quit smoking.
People with heart disease have higher rates of depression than do the general public, which can make kicking the habit more difficult. In the new study, the researchers examined whether CBT had any effect on smoking in 1,233 people who had a heart attack and were depressed. Overall, people who had CBT were no less likely to report smoking than those who didn’t receive therapy. However, those who reported good social support and received CBT quit smoking one-third more often than those who did not receive CBT.
“Our findings suggest CBT may have little effect in reducing smoking behavior among a larger population of smokers outside a smoking cessation program,” Trockel and colleagues conclude. “More focused smoking cessation intervention is needed.”
Clinicians using CBT should consider whether their clients have good social support, and should not be surprised if CBT is less effective when social support is not present. Groups that offer both social support and CBT are likely to be very helpful in quitting smoking.
© Copyright 2008 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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