Nicotine creates a chronic drug memory in the brain

Discussion created by Thomas3.20.2010 on Feb 2, 2017
Latest reply on Feb 3, 2017 by crazymama_Lori

A new study in Sweden has demonstrated that some of the most insidious withdrawal symptoms from Nicotine Addiction don't even happen until 3 Months after quitting. 


“This indicates very long-lasting changes caused by nicotine that were previously unknown. The nicotine appears to create a cascade of effects that only get worse and worse over time,” says Julia Morud Lekholm, researcher in addiction biology at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology. [University of Gothenburg]


In the experiment addicted rats which respond in similar ways as humans demonstrated increased spontaneous impulsiveness. Four months after that the nerve signal rather than dampening actually increased! "In other words, a highly activated system, and an extensive risk of relapsing into smoking, for example, if people had been involved."


“Of course, rats and people are very different, but in terms of the type of brain circuit that we study, the brain’s reward system, we are very much alike. Also in terms of risk-taking behavior, it’s possible to translate to humans to some extent. Having poor impulse control isn’t good for life in general, of course. One can end up in many bad situations and this may also have effects on the consumption of other drugs later in life,” says Julia Morud Lekholm.


Even if the time aspects are not directly transferable to humans, she believes the changed signaling in the brain to some extent explains part of the difficulties and long-lasting problems many who want to quit smoking, or using tobacco have.

“It’s a life-long struggle. We understand this when we look at animals who after such a long abstinence from nicotine still have a lot of changes in their reward system. Therefore, more efforts should absolutely be made on this kind of research to try to find new therapies, because it’s extremely hard for people to be able to withstand the urge for longer time periods,” says Julia Morud Lekholm.

Read the article: Nicotine creates a chronic drug memory in the brain - University of Gothenburg, Sweden 

Does Quitting get easier? Yes! Will recovery take time? Absolutely! We humans of course have resources that the poor rats don't have available to them. But you do have to work your Quit Journey for a very long time!