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How Brain Responds To Nicotine

Armen Hareyan's picture

Different people react to nicotine differently, with some of them feeling excited with the first cigarette and others feeling disgusted. Researchers from University of Western Ontario uncovered how brain reacts to nicotine and why people feel different when smoking.

Researchers examined rat brains. They looked at brain pathway called mesolimbic dopamine system, which is aimed at transmitting nicotine signals using neurotransmitter dopamine. This system is also responsible for other types of addiction, such as alcohol and cocaine addictions. Researchers found a specific dopamine receptor which responds to nicotine and even turned the receptor off in rat brain.

This study means, that researchers will soon be able to switch human brain receptors and make those feeling excited about cigarettes have an unpleasant feeling when smoking. This study gives hope to scientists that they can switch receptors in humans as well, because rat brain is very similar to human brain.

"Our findings may explain an individual's vulnerability to nicotine addiction and may point to new pharmacological treatments for the prevention of it and the treatment of nicotine withdrawal," said Dr. Steven Laviolette from University of Western Ontario.

Researchers are now examining molecular changes taking place in brain while switching dopamine receptor to make it possible for drug makers to develop certain chemicals to help smokers quit. If further researches are successful, drug makers will be able to develop drugs for smoking addiction treatment.

Quit Smoking Tips From CDC

Are you one of most smokers who want to quit? Then try following this advice.

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1. Don’t smoke any number or any kind of cigarette. Smoking even a few cigarettes a day can hurt your health. If you try to smoke fewer cigarettes, but do not stop completely, soon you’ll be smoking the same amount again.

Smoking "low-tar, low-nicotine" cigarettes usually does little good, either. Because nicotine is so addictive, if you switch to lower-nicotine brands you’ll likely just puff harder, longer, and more often on each cigarette. The only safe choice is to quit completely.

2. Write down why you want to quit. Do you want to—

* Feel in control of you life?
* Have better health?
* Set a good example for your children?
* Protect your family from breathing other people’s smoke?

Really wanting to quit smoking is very important to how much success you will have in quitting. Smokers who live after a heart attack are the most likely to quit for good - they're very motivated. Find a reason for quitting before you have no choice.

3. Know that it will take effort to quit smoking. Nicotine is habit forming. Half of the battle in quitting is knowing you need to quit. This knowledge will help you be more able to deal with the symptoms of withdrawal that can occur, such as bad moods and really wanting to smoke. There are many ways smokers quit, including using nicotine replacement products (gum and patches), but there is no easy way. Nearly all smokers have some feelings of nicotine withdrawal when they try to quit. Give yourself a month to get over these feelings. Take quitting one day at a time, even one minute at a time—whatever you need to succeed.

4. Half of all adult smokers have quit, so you can - too. That’s the good news. There are millions of people alive today who have learned to face life without a cigarette. For staying healthy, quitting smoking is the best step you can take.

5. Get help if you need it. Many groups offer written materials, programs, and advice to help smokers quit for good. Your doctor or dentist is also a good source of help and support.