Neurobiology of Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine addiction is serious. It taps into the same brain reward pathways as other drugs of abuse such as heroin, alcohol, and cocaine.1 Nicotine dependence is both physiological and psychological—with behavioral, mental, and physical components. Understanding the neurobiology of nicotine dependence—and why it’s so hard to quit smoking—is an important step in helping patients who want to do so.

This video explores the journey of nicotine from inhalation, to its effects on the brain and receptor populations, to why withdrawal happens and ways to break the cycle. 


1. The Health Consequences of Smoking, A Report From the Surgeon General

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Nikki Bozinoff and Bernard Le Foll (2018) Understanding the implications of the biobehavioral basis of nicotine addiction and its impact on the efficacy of treatment, Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine, 12:9, 793-804, DOI: 10.1080/17476348.2018.1507736

Hibbs, Ryan E., and Alexander C. Zambon. "Nicotine and Agents Acting at the Neuromuscular Junction and Autonomic Ganglia." Goodman & Gilman's: The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 13e Eds. Laurence L. Brunton, et al. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill

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