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Nicotine addiction 

Nicotine addiction
Chapter:
Nicotine addiction
Author(s):

David J. Nutt

and Liam J. Nestor

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198797746.003.0011
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date: 24 June 2019

Cigarette smoking presents with considerable health risks and induces high costs on healthcare resources. People continue to smoke cigarettes in the face of adversity because they contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Nicotine is a stimulant that exerts its effects within the brain by acting at nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). nAChRs are located in areas of the brain involved in reward processing, motivation, and cognitive control, which results in disruptions to behaviour when nicotine addiction has developed. Disturbances to the brain and behaviour are particularly evident during early nicotine abstinence when people are in withdrawal. Importantly, treatments (e.g. varenicline, bupropion) that attenuate disturbances to reward and cognition in the brain during withdrawal in early nicotine abstinence are conferred with the efficacy to promote smoking cessation and protect against relapse.

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