Sunday, July 6, 2008
How Nicotine is a Different Kind of Addiction
We need to find a different way of describing how individuals are attached to nicotine besides addiction, which implies the heavy withdrawals like from heroin, crack and alcohol--which hospitalization may be required. However, nicotine does change the structure of the brain--which is why it can be easy for some smokers to quit but hard to stay quit since most will relapse within a year. The nicotine is out of the body in a few days but the brain has memories attached to external events--habits, nicotine goes with coffee, talking on the phone ete..These habit cigarettes go away very quickly too. However, it can be years later when a nicotine memory is triggered in the former smokers brain and should the quitter decides to have "just one", they may find that just like potato chips, they can't stop at just one. the Nicotine locks into receptors in the brain and starts creating more of these receptors, which do dormant when quitting but can wake up with the reintroduce of nicotine---The brain is screaming--Don't tease me with one cigarette, I want the whole pack. The brain has the memory of being flooded with dopamine when Kid Nicotine locks into those receptors. So there are two parts--Stop Smoking AND Stay Quit to be successful. Understanding what nicotine does to the brain can help when Kid Nicotine comes knocking on your door out of the blue just when you think you've got kid nicotine beat.