Why Anti-Nicotine Drugs Cause Relapse
By Kirsten Cowart
If you have ever smoked or have been around someone who is a smoker, you know that the hardest part of smoking is trying to quit. Sure, there are side effects to smoking, both physical and financial, but often, the most uncomfortable side effects happen when you finally decide to stop.
“The first few weeks after quitting smoking are usually the most difficult and it’s safe to say that it normally takes at least 8-12 weeks before a person starts to feel comfortable with their new lifestyle change of being an ex-smoker. Withdrawal from nicotine, an addictive drug found in tobacco, is characterized by symptoms that include headache, anxiety, nausea and a craving for more tobacco. Nicotine creates a chemical dependency, so that the body develops a need for a certain level of nicotine at all times.” 
So, not only are you going to experience awful symptoms, but they are going to last for nearly 3 months after you decide you want to get healthy. This makes the desire to stop a great idea in theory, but miserable in the actual practice.
New Scientific Findings
Scientists have recently identified the region of the brain that actually holds the key to addiction, specifically for smoking. The research found from two different studies showed that people who had damage to the insular cortex of the brain, such as a stroke, experienced fewer and less severe withdrawal symptoms than those with strokes in other parts of their brains.
Lead author of the research, Amir Abdolahi, said, “These findings indicate that the insular cortex may play a central role in addiction.” He conducted the research while he was in the doctoral program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
“When this part of the brain is damaged during stroke, smokers are about twice as likely to stop smoking and their craving and withdrawal symptoms are far less severe,” said Abdolahi, now at Philips Research North America.
The reason why this is a significant find is because most drugs that treat tobacco dependence, which contain bupropion and varenicline, function by targeting the brain’s “reward” system. These drugs interfere with the release of dopamine in the brain. Statistically, these drugs also have a relatively high rate of relapse as well.
So, that means that, while you are trying to quit smoking, your reward center is being messed with. Dopamine is designed to help you feel happy and motivate you to keep doing things that feel good. If you are trying to quit smoking, this is one area of the brain that you do not want to be cut off. No one wants to feel unmotivated and down while they are trying to quit smoking.
These recent studies have strongly hinted that the insular cortex may play an important role in the emotional and cognitive processes that facilitate tobacco and drug use.
How Can You Apply This To Your life?
Having a stroke is not the answer to curing your addictions, however, thanks to these stroke survivors, we can now begin looking for ways to calm the insular cortex regions of the brain and perhaps find a new way to passively quite smoking.
Imagine a quit smoking program that has natural foods, exercises and/or meditations that calm your insular cortex. Through those activities, you suddenly notice a decreased desire for cigarettes. Then you start to also notice that although you are smoking less, you are experiencing almost none of the typical symptoms of quitting.
This incredible breakthrough could create the exact revolution in the area of addiction recovery that this world desperately needs.
What would life be like without the burden of addiction? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
Kirsten Cowart is a writer and researcher that has worked in the spiritual, mental health and medical fields.Kirsten enjoys studying and experiencing the benefits of yoga, meditation, nutrition, herbalism, organic gardening and alternative health.She worked hard in 2014 losing over 40 lbs. and has since maintained a healthy lifestyle.Follow her to learn more about her journey on Twitter, Facebook & Youtube!
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