ABCs of Smoking Behavior: Using Functional Behavioral Analysis in ACT

Fred Hutch Cancer Center, University of Washington

Key Points

  1. Functional behavioral analysis is essential in understanding the triggers, behavior, and consequences of Jane’s smoking, revealing situational, emotional, and physical factors.
  2. Immediate relief from negative sensations and emotions reinforces smoking behavior, demonstrating the role of negative reinforcement in addiction.
  3. Recognizing both immediate and long-term health consequences of smoking is vital in guiding Jane towards cessation, highlighting the balance between short-term relief and long-term health risks.
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This section delves into the functional behavioral analysis conducted to understand the role smoking played in Jane’s life, emphasizing the importance of this approach in behavior therapies.

The ABCs of Smoking: Antecedents, Behavior, Consequences

Understanding the Triggers (Antecedents)

  • The analysis began with identifying situational triggers for smoking, such as arguments, home environment, consuming coffee or alcohol, driving, and watching television.
  • Emotional triggers, like social anxiety, tiredness, and anger, were also noted.
  • Physical sensations in the chest, throat, and hands were identified as immediate physical triggers for smoking.

Tracking the Smoking Behavior

  • Jane was instructed to log the times of day when she smoked.

Examining the Consequences

  • The immediate reduction in physical sensations and negative emotions post-smoking was observed.
  • Increased alertness and decreased feelings of tiredness were noted as short-term consequences.

Insights from the Functional Analysis

Negative Reinforcement of Smoking

  • The rapid relief from aversive feelings or sensations provided by smoking was identified as a key factor in its effectiveness.
  • This instant alleviation acts as a negative reinforcer, making smoking a habitual response.

Long-Term Health Consequences

  • Longer-term health risks associated with smoking, such as vision issues, diabetes complications, heart disease, and cancer, were also considered.
  • Emphasizing these long-term consequences helps in maintaining awareness and motivation for quitting.

Treatment Implications

The Role of Behaviorism in Smoking Cessation

  • Understanding the behavioral aspects of smoking is crucial in devising effective cessation strategies.
  • The analysis assists in creating a comprehensive picture of the smoking habit, aiding in the development of targeted interventions.

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ABCs of Smoking Behavior: Using Functional Behavioral Analysis in ACT