The Pervasiveness of Nicotine Addiction and Cigarettes
In spite of many campaigns to reduce the consumption of what some refer to as “cancer sticks” (cigarettes), the habit is still a pervasive one. And this is understandably so. The National Institute of Drug Abuse informs us that when nicotine is absorbed into the blood, it immediately interacts with the adrenal glands to release epinephrine (adrenaline). Nicotine also increases the release of the dopamine neurotransmitter, and therein lies the mechanism for addiction. Rushes of dopamine are associated with feelings of “reward” and “pleasure.” Not everyone responds addictively to things that stimulate dopamine, but this is the means by which substances are often addictive.
And this nicotine habit is widespread. According to Health Research Funding, 1.1 billion people worldwide are smokers. With 7.5 billion people on the planet, that makes up almost a seventh of the entire population. And the CDC reports that more people are addicted to nicotine than any other drug in the United States, suggesting its addictive power even for people who otherwise don’t have the typical brain chemistry for addictions (usually a lack of dopamine). It also is not always safer to opt for e-cigarettes as an alternative, particularly as a teenager. Dr. Nora Volkow with the National Institute of Drug Abuse is quoted as saying, “Classically, it is recognized that e-cigarettes are likely to be much less toxic than combustible tobacco because you don’t have the carcinogenic chemicals that you get when you are smoking a cigarette. But on the other hand, nicotine is an addictive substance, and by that nature, it produces changes, neuroplastic changes in the brain, and so our concern has been whether early exposure of adolescents to nicotine could prime their brain to the rewarding effects of other drugs, including tobacco, regular combustible tobacco, … and that’s actually what they seem to have found.”
Preliminary Study Finds That Introduction of CBD Actually Does Help a Person Reduce Cigarette Consumption
It almost sounds too easy, but it’s true: CBD shows evidence of being able to reduce a person’s cigarette intake. It was discovered through a randomized double blind, placebo-controlled study. The sample size included 24 smokers, and for one week, half of them were instructed to use either a placebo inhaler or an inhaler of CBD every time they felt the urge to smoke. Over the course of that week, the placebo group showed no differences in the number of cigarettes consumed. Meanwhile, the CBD group lowered its cigarette consumption by approximately 40%. Celia Morgan, PhD. co-authored the study and elaborated on the mechanisms through which these effects might’ve been achieved. “We found that CBD seems to reduce the salience of cues. It also can reduce anxiety and may affect a memory process called ‘reconsolidation,’ which is where when a memory of the reward of smoking is re-activated by seeing someone smoking, it is rendered vulnerable to destruction. CBD might mean these positive smoking memories are gradually erased.” More research is definitely needed with a potentially larger sample size, but this is great news for those looking to kick their nicotine addiction with CBD.