How many times have you thought of quitting smoking and how many times you gave up the idea?
Do you know smoking is the world’s leading preventable cause of death?
Everybody knows smoking is bad and yet people can’t stop it.
The reason is Nicotine.
Dr. Neil Benowitz has conducted nicotine research at the University of California, San Francisco. He says, “From a scientific standpoint, nicotine is just as hard, or harder, to quit than heroin … but people don’t recognize that.”
Why nicotine is addictive?
Quit Australia has precisely explained the way nicotine addiction work. They say “If you’re a smoker, your brain is filled with nicotine receptors. These receptors eagerly await incoming nicotine. Think of nicotine as a key, and receptors as little locks. When the nicotine unlocks the nicotine receptors, a feel-good chemical called dopamine is released, giving you a little “hit” or “buzz”. This doesn’t last long. The nicotine soon fades making the receptor eager for more.”
How Do you know you are addicted to nicotine?
They further explain, “Usually if you smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day or have a cigarette in the first half-hour after waking up, you have a nicotine addiction that is significant enough to give you some real trouble when quitting.”
How to quit smoking?
Dr. Nicola Lindson-Hawley from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences led the research. 697 adult smokers with tobacco addiction participated to examine the success of quitting smoking by gradual comparison of abrupt quitting.
They divided the participants into two groups.
1st Group – the ‘abrupt cessation’ group – set a quit day and stopped all smoking on that day.
2nd Group – the ‘gradual cessation’ group – set a quit day but gradually reduced their tobacco use in the two weeks leading up to that date.
Both groups received behavioral support from nurses. They used nicotine replacement (nicotine patches and nicotine replacement therapy, like nicotine gum or mouth spray) before and after quit day.
After the quit day, they evaluated the participants weekly for the next four weeks, and after six months. At four weeks, 39% of the gradual cessation group (2nd Group) had kept off tobacco, compared to 49% of the abrupt cessation group (1stGroup), meaning that the abrupt group was 25% more likely to quit. The difference between the groups began on quit day when more of the abrupt group attempted to quit (defined as having at least 24 hours with no tobacco), compared to the gradual cessation group.
As the conclusion, most effective way to quit smoking is to stop all at once, rather than gradually reducing the number of cigarettes.
(The paper, Gradual versus Abrupt Smoking Cessation, is published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine on Tuesday 15 March (DOI: 10.7326/M14-2805).
Why it is hard to quit smoking?
Dr. Lindson-Hawley explains the answer to this question saying “The difference in quit attempts seemed to arise because people struggled to cut down. It provided them with an extra thing to do, which may have put them off quitting altogether. If people actually made a quit attempt, then the success rate was equal across groups. We also found that more people preferred the idea of quitting gradually than abruptly; however, regardless of what they thought, they were still more likely to quit in the abrupt group.”
What happens after quitting smoking?
Science Daily has published the research of ‘examining dopamine function in chronic smokers before and after long-term cessation’, conducted by Senior author Dr. Ingo Vernaleken, Professor at RWTH Aachen University in Germany.
They used 30 men who were nicotine-dependent smokers and 15 non-smokers to measure an index of the capacity for dopamine production by using a brain imaging technique called positron emission tomography (PET scan). After three months from the initial scan, 15 smokers who successfully quit were scanned
In the initial scan, there was a 15-20% reduction in dopamine production of smokers compared to non-smokers. The scan after three months revealed that a lower dopamine synthesis capacity in nicotine-dependent smokers appears to normalize with abstinence.
Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry says, “This study suggests that the first three months after one stops smoking may be a particularly vulnerable time for relapse, in part, because of persisting dopamine deficits. This observation raised the possibility that one might target these deficits with new treatments.”
(Biological Psychiatry Published: November 19, 2015I:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.11.009).
Furthermore, science Daily has indicated “smoking-related dopamine deficits in the brain, does a chemical implication in reward and addiction, return to normal three months after quitting. The normalization of dopamine systems suggests smoking-related deficits are a consequence of chronic smoking, rather than a risk factor. These findings raise the possibility that treatments might be developed that normalize the dopamine system in smokers” by summarising the results of the study reported in Biological Psychiatry.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.