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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. 

References

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

Jackson KJ, Muldoon PP, De Biasi M, Damaj MI. New mechanisms and perspectives in nicotine withdrawal. Neuropharmacology. 2014;96(Pt B):223-34.

Hukkanen J., Peyton III J., Benowitz NL., Metabolism and Disposition Kinetics of Nicotine, Pharms Rev. 57:79-115, 2005

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

Benowitz, NL., Neurobiology of Nicotine Addiction: Implications for Smoking Cessation Treatment.  The American Journal of Medicine 2008 Vol 121 (4A), S3–S10

Burns, David M. "Nicotine Addiction." Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20e Eds. J. Larry Jameson, et al. New York, NY: McGraw Hill

Changeux JP. Nicotine addiction and nicotinic receptors: lessons from genetically modified mice. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2010 Jun;11(6):389-401.

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