Animal Study Finds Effects of Nicotine on Brain Mirror Those of Cocaine

The effects of nicotine on the parts of the brain involved with addiction are similar to the effects of cocaine, according to a study using rat brain tissue. The study found that one 15-minute exposure to nicotine caused a long-term increase in the excitability of nerve cells involved in reward.

According to Science Daily, the study suggests that nicotine and cocaine use similar mechanisms and create long-term changes in the brain. The findings are published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

The researchers said this study, which indicates that nicotine and cocaine both affect the reward system of the brain, may help explain why so many people have a difficult time quitting smoking, and why so many people who experiment with cocaine end up becoming addicted.

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    Valerie Johnson

    May 5, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    The indications of this study appear very rational to me, based on information I have gathered from substance abusing clients over the past twenty some odd years. Consistently I hear, “It is harder to stop smoking/chewing/dipping than anything else.” The addictive nature of cocaine is well documented and universally accepted. This study appears to lend credence to the observation that nicotine is comparable to the drug which tends to cause addiction in the shortest amount of time-cocaine.

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