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How Does Dopamine Affect Nicotine Addiction

How Does Dopamine Affect Nicotine Addiction

This neurotransmitter is affected by N Acetyltyrosine, DL Phenylaline, and ExcitaCor


Cigarette smoking of nicotine addiction is one of the most prevalent problems worldwide. It has continuously resulted to sickness, disease and deaths brought about by the ill effects of smoking. The same addiction has caused up a stir in the internet world recently when a two year old boy was video recorded smoking in his own home and becoming violent when not given a stick or two to puff. As disturbing as the picture may seem, this is now the reality that has resulted from nicotine addiction. And one cause for this addiction may be linked to a chemical produced in the body known as dopamine.


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced by the substantia negra in the midbrain section. Important to note here is that the substantia negra is one of the major players affecting the body’s movement making this hormone infamous to being linked with Parkinson’s disease.


Another brain area of concern in relation to dopamine is the Ventral Tegmental Area or the VTA. This is the area of the brain notorious for the causing the stimuli of motivation and rewarding, thus, dopamine has been known as the “pleasure molecule”. This neurotransmitter increases when we encounter things that we find to be pleasurable or rewarding such cigarette smoking. Dopamine level changes are thought of to be linked with addiction because of this property.


Tobacco/nicotine dependence involves both psychological and physiologic dependence on nicotine. As nicotine enters the body, it activates the same reward pathways in the brain that cocaine or amphetamines do to a lesser degree. Research has shown that nicotine increases the level of dopamine in the brain, thus making one feel happy or rewarded or satisfied at the moment where dopamine levels are higher that normal.

The acute effects of nicotine wear off within minutes, so people must continue dosing themselves frequently throughout the day to maintain the pleasurable effects of nicotine and to prevent withdrawal symptoms, thus the need to light one cigarette after another.

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