People in the habit of smoking know how difficult it is to win the battle of smoke, which is even worse than the battle of the bulge. Most people go through the “quit smoking” phase, but not many people are successful at following through. They hate using the word “addiction,” but that is what it is. Why does this happen?
Smoking makes people feel good by stimulating the mind, while soothing it. This soothing effect is hard to let go. This happens because of the nicotine present in the cigarettes, which triggers a flood of dopamine and several other neurochemicals that flow over the brain’s pleasure channels. Tobacco smoke inhalation is said to be the quickest way to send nicotine to the brain.
Researcher Dr. David Abrams is very understanding when he says, “I completely understand why you wouldn’t want to give it up.” Another researcher says, “It’s more difficult to get off nicotine than heroin or cocaine.”
Dr. Abrams explained that smoking takes charge of the reward systems in our brain that makes people seek water, food and sex. This rewards system also makes the person seek nicotine, making them feel the same urgency. The human brain starts believing that this is also an essential part of survival.
Regarding the addiction to nicotine, doctors say that nicotine does not afford the same level of addiction to all people. Many people never smoke because they do not enjoy it and then there are people that smoke occasionally but do not get addicted. However, most people who start smoking usually get addicted at some point and start smoking all day, every day.
Discoveries in genetics are clearing up some of the unknown facts as to why some people get addicted to smoking while others do not. The culprit is found to be a gene-encoded enzyme that works by clearing nicotine from the bloodstreams of some smokers rapidly and these people end up smoking more to refill the nicotine.
Drug makers are researching this addiction, in order to provide new treatments to help smokers quit smoking.
The latest medication for smokers, which is the first to be approved in ten long years, is Chantix. Chantix works by disguising as nicotine so well that it copies the brain’s nicotine receptors, where it may have the potential to reduce cravings. Then when real nicotine is sent to the brain, it will not be able to find enough free receptors to work on it.
However, the huge enthusiasm that this was met with, faded when there were reports of suicides and other bizarre behaviors noted in people who were taking it.
Researchers are working on Chantix to see where it is going wrong and also on other alternatives, but it may be a while before something else comes along that can help people quit smoking.
Meanwhile, how about trying to put that will power to use, and join the club of minority smokers that quit without needing any external help.