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Hello, folks. I have been smoking for more than 15 years. You can say that I am an addict. I would really like to know what makes one to take cigarettes. What is the biological basis of tobacco addiction? I would really appreciate if anyone could reply me to this question. Thank you in advance.

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Hello. Smoking is an addiction, you’ve got that right. The substance from tobacco that makes one addicted is nicotine. Biological basis of tobacco addiction is very complex to me. Dopamine, a substance in brain has an important role in this. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter; it conducts signals in the brain. Reward and punishments limbic centers in the brain are also involved. I am not sure about the details. You could consult an expert. I hope you will find the answer. Bye!
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Nicotine is the tobacco plant's natural protection from being eaten by insects. It is a super toxin that, drop for drop, is more lethal than strychnine or diamondback rattlesnake venom, and three times deadlier than arsenic. Yet, amazingly, by chance, this natural insecticide's chemical structure is so similar to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine that once inside the brain it fits a host of chemical locks permitting it direct and indirect control over the flow of more than 200 neurochemicals.

Within eight seconds of that first-ever inhaled puff, through dizzy, coughing and six shades of green, nicotine arrived at the brain's reward pathways where it generated an unearned flood of dopamine, resulting in an immediate yet possibly unrecognized "aaahhh" reward sensation. Sensing it would cause most first-time inhalers to soon return to steal more. Nicotine also fit the adrenaline locks releasing a host of fight or flight neurochemicals and select serotonin locks impacting mood.

Brain Defenses Create Dependency

A toxic poison, the brain's defenses fought back but in doing so they had no choice but to also turn down the mind’s sensitivity to acetylcholine, the body's conductor of an entire orchestra of neurochemicals.

In some neuro-circuits the brain diminished the number of receptors available to receive nicotine, in others it diminished the number of available transporters and in still other regions it grew millions and millions of extra acetylcholine receptors (up-regulation), almost as if trying to protect itself by more widely disbursing the arriving pesticide.

There was only one problem. All the physical changes engineered a new tailored neurochemical sense of normal built entirely upon the presence of nicotine. Now, any attempt to stop using it would come with a risk of intermittent temporary hurtful anxieties and powerful mood shifts. A true chemical addiction was born. Returning home to the “real you” now had a price. Gradually the calmness and comfort associated with being the “real you” faded into distant or even forgotten memory.

The brain's protective adjustments insured that any attempt to stop would leave you temporarily desensitized. Your dopamine reward system would briefly offer-up few rewards, your nervous system would see altering the status quo as danger and sound an emotional anxiety alarm throughout your body, and mood circuitry might briefly find it difficult to climb beyond depression.
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