Smoking, and Nicotine Effect on the Brain

in StemSociallast year

Smoking is a social habit that can't be condemned completely due to people's belief, unless you are the ministry of health, who can openly say that Smokers are Liable to die young. The truth is, Smokers are liable to die young. According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 16 million Americans suffer from diseases caused by smoking, and about 480,000 people die annually in the US, as a result of smoking and this includes people who were not directly smokers, but had second hand smoke exposure. 41,000 people die as a result of second hand exposure to smoke. We can say that smoking is responsible for the majority of self-inflicted internal cancer in the body. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is responsible for 20% of all cancers in the United States, and 80% of all lung cancer cases, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmunary disease (COPD), and could increase the risk of cancers of the larynx (voice box), mouth, kidney, liver, bladder, pancreas, and stomach, just to mention a few, and this is just in the United States alone.

That's a whole lot for me to quit smoking if I smoke, but I don't smoke

While a lot of us look at these health issues, we obviously forget that smoking has its effect on the brain. Some times, you wonder why a lot of smokers want to quit, but relapse repeatedly? Nicotine can be as addictive as sex (for adults), or let me say sweet (candy) for young children.

I have met with a lot of people that tell me that they can't stop smoking because they enjoy it, and it gives them some kind of feeling and pleasure, some people tell me that they find it hard to withdraw because they go back to it after a while. I have a friend who tells me that he smokes just to be able to focus on his task, or to get out of depression (well, the depression aspect is still funny to me). I met with a man who told me that if he doesn't smoke after eating, he often feels like he hasn't had a nice meal. You see, Nicotine has a lot of receptors (NaChRs) which are expressed in so many brain areas causing complex effects on the brain.

Hey!! you know I love smoking because I enjoy it? You won't Understand, because you don't smoke my friend.

Do you know that people could change a brand of cigarette because there is a reduction in the Nicotine concentration of the cigarette, to another brand with Nicotine presence? and people who change their brand of cigarette from higher yeild to lower yeild nicotine cigarette, tends to smoke more to compensate and gain more nicotine? NCBI.

For Clearity, Nicotine isn't the only chemical in cigarette. According to the American Lung Association, there are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes which when burned, produces over 7000 chemicals.

Nicotine function in the brain is as a result of its neurotransmitters which binds with the acetylcholine receptors of the brain, chainging the activities of the protein receptors, which in turn changes the activities of the nerve cells in which the receptors will be expressed. Due to Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) subunits (α1 -α9, β1 - β5, γ, ε, and δ), which are similar to the subunit of the neurotransmiters in the brain (α, β, γ, ρ, θ, ε, π, and δ), Nicotine can bind with a lot of receptors thereby reaching almost all parts of the brain. In the brain, the Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA), and the Nucleus Accumbens (NAcc) are responsible for satisfactory rewards, motivational and emotional processes with the help of the neurotransmitter Dopamine. When Nicotine neurotransmiters binds with the receptors of cells in the VTA and NAcc, Dopamine is released, making the smoker feel satisfied, emotionally calm, happy, and feeling rewarded, as a result making them to keep wanting to feel that way thereby leading to addiction. An Experiment was done on rodent with Nicotine reward, to explain human addiction to tobacco and its abuse.

So smoking can make me feel satisfied, rewarded and emotionally relaxed! I would love to give it a try, but I do not like adictions

In movies, you see people who are depressed smoke, and then you wonder if that's true. Well, according to research published on American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 24.2% of smokers are depressed but then proving that nicotine is responsible for the depression and anxiety can be very difficult. Research published on NCBI, shows inconsistency with results showing if Nicotine could cause or alliviate depression.

While Nicotine in cigarette gives a good feeling while taking, it leads to faster cognitive decline of the brain overtime. Due to the inpact of Nicotine on the brain receptors to give neurotranssmitters, the brain starts to become less active in the production of these neurotransmitters since the brain is addicted to getting response from the Nicotin thereby not producing its own neurotransmitter. A study title Impact of smoking on cognitive decline in early old age: the Whitehall II cohort study showed a 10 year early decline in cognitive ability among smokers compard to non-smokers. Also, a [study] showed that smokers have a higer risk of brain volume loss compared to non-smokers.


While Cigarette is known to cause a lot of damage to our organs causing cancer, it should be known that it also affects the brain. To help smokers quit smoking, Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Beta-2 Subunit inhibitor medications such as Bupropion can be used.

Image 1 || public domain pictures

Image 2 || commoms.wikipedia


I think a lot of smokers are actually depressed because they feel helpless. Addiction is something else really.

Addiction is quite a pandemic, suffered by a lot of people. Although, Nicotine has shown it can cause as well as alleviate depression. So we can't say that Nicotine is the cause of depression, but we can say that smokers run to smoking because they are depressed and want the brain to produce nicotine induced dopamine.

Exactly. They feel they have no option and fall back to the usual. I've worked in a psychiatry hospital where most of the guys on admission were drug abusers. I tried to talk to them. You won't believe someone who has been admitted for about 6months told me immediately he leaves here, he'll buy a Colorado on the road. While I tried to ask him, he said he can't help himself and the cigarette helps to console him.

It is a drug, right? addiction is a the worst pandemic around the world! Including alcohol !

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Addiction is one disease that gradually takes over a person's entirety without them knowing.


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You provide very important data in this post, I had no idea about the relationship between depression and cigarette smoking. There is much we do not know, no doubt, and it is interesting every day to learn something new.thanks for leaving me this link.