Many take to smoking for making a style statement and getting in the loop of the so called cool people who smoke. Slowly they get addicted to it and no amount of pressure can help them kick the habit. How and why this addiction occurs has always been an intriguing question and worrisome for the smoker’s family members and for the ones who care.
However, researchers now have an answer to the question. A new research by the The University of Western Ontario has revealed how the addictive properties of the nicotine present in cigarette works.
“Nicotine interacts with a variety of neurochemical pathways within the brain to produce its rewarding and addictive effects,” explains Steven Laviolette, the lead researchers, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. “However, during the early phase of tobacco exposure, many individuals find nicotine highly unpleasant and aversive, whereas others may become rapidly dependent on nicotine and find it highly rewarding. We wanted to explore that difference.”
The findings reveal that ‘mesolimbic’, a brain pathway, uses the neurotransmitter ‘dopamine’ to transmit signals related to what are called as the nicotine’s rewarding properties. The ‘mesolimbic’ dopamine system has been associated with addictive properties of many drugs that include cocaine, alcohol and nicotine.
“While much progress has been made in understanding how the brain processes the rewarding effects of nicotine after the dependence is established, very little is known about how the mesolimbic dopamine system may control the initial vulnerability to nicotine; that is, why do some individuals become quickly addicted to nicotine while others do not, and in some cases, even find nicotine to be highly aversive.”
“Importantly, 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,” added Laviolette.
The study has been published in the August 6th issue of Journal of Neuroscience. Such studies can help researchers discover new treatments to help smokers kick the butt, by attacking the brain system with various therapies.