Breaking up is hard to do—especially for smokers who seek to sever their relationship with nicotine. Now, a new study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) may provide some clues as to why many people find quitting the smoking habit so difficult and may suggest better ways of treating nicotine withdrawal (Nature. 1998;393:76-79).
Abrupt withdrawal from chronic nicotine exposure induces the same kind of withdrawal reaction in the brain's pleasure circuits seen with cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and alcohol, according to animal studies conducted by researchers from the Scripps Research Institute.
Stephenson J. Nicotine Withdrawal. JAMA. 1998;279(23):1857. doi:10.1001/jama.279.23.1857-JHA80004-3-1