Symptoms, Causes, Treatments – Forbes Health


First and foremost, nicotine activates dopamine release, explains Shoshana Ungerleider, M.D., a primary care internist who treats nicotine addiction and smoking cessation at Crossover Health in San Francisco. Creates joy and satisfaction. “This enhances the pleasurable experience, reinforces behavior, and leads to repeated use and addiction,” explains Dr. Ungerleider.

In fact, dopamine is deeply involved in our reward system, added Dr. Sam Ruckucci, a psychologist at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. has helped stop nicotine use for 13 years.

“Over time, the brain adjusts and expects these increased levels of stimulation, and because it’s constantly flooded as a result of nicotine use, it down-regulates natural dopamine production,” she says. When the artificially elevated levels drop, cravings kick in as the brain has to recalibrate back to natural dopamine production, Dr. Lookatch adds.

“This reduction and elimination of nicotine stimulation leads to cravings and withdrawal symptoms,” she explains.

Dr Lookatch also adds that another factor behind why nicotine addiction is so difficult to overcome is because it becomes relevant to many aspects of a person’s life. People become not only physiologically dependent on substances, but psychologically as well,” she says. This might look like using nicotine to manage and deal with different emotions and emotional states, or connecting with others beyond social settings such as smoking breaks at work. “Addressing all of these factors can help you successfully quit nicotine,” she says, Dr. Lookatch.



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