Restoring volume control

Restoring volume control

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

10 Apr 2004, 19:39 #1

Is Smoking Cigarettes Addictive?
50 million Americans smoke cigarettes. In the face of clear evidence that cigarettes cause lung cancer, outlined in a previous article in this series, why don't smokers quit? Many of these individuals say they would like to, but can't; they simply find it too difficult to overcome the habit. Anyone who has ever smoked cigarettes knows how difficult it is to quit. Most studies indicate a "quitting" success rate -- at least two year's abstinence -- of about 20 percent. Despite this widespread experience, cigarette manufacturers have steadfastly refused to admit that smoking cigarettes is addictive, even swearing so under oath before congress last year. However, the maker of Chesterfield cigarettes, Liggett, has recently broken ranks with the other tobacco companies and in a legal settlement agreed that cigarettes cause cancer and are addictive. A tobacco spokesperson, addressing the question in the wake of the Liggett settlement, quibbled that the question has no answer, as addiction means different things to different people. Who is right? Is nicotine, the key ingredient, an addictive drug?
How Psychoactive Drugs Affect the Brain
To understand the nature of addiction, you must focus your attention on how nerves in the brain communicate with one another, because it is in altering this process that chemicals like nicotine have their effect. Unlike electrical wires in a house, the nerve cells in the brain are not physically connected to one another. They are separated from one another by tiny gaps. For a signal to pass from one nerve cell to another within the brain, it must cross the space that separates the two cells. How is this achieved? By shooting chemicals across the gap! Called neurotransmitters, these chemicals bind to specific receptor proteins embedded within the cell membrane on the far side of the gap. The binding of a neurotransmitter to a matching stimulatory receptor promotes the generation of a new signal in the receiving nerve cell, thus successfully transferring the signal across the gap.

Investigators studying mind-altering drugs soon learned that mood, pleasure, and other mental states are determined by particular groups of nerves in the brain that use special sets of neurotransmitters and receptors. Much of the early work was driven by attempts to understand and treat depression. Researchers found that the mood-elevating nerve pathways of depressed individuals appeared to have too little of the neurotransmitter seratonin to function effectively. With too little seratonin in the gaps between nerve cells, the target receptors on the receiving nerve cells don't fire enough to keep the mood-elevating pathway active, and depression results. Attempts to treat depression by administering extra seratonin failed -- there were too many side effects.

Success was finally achieved with drugs that magnify the effects of the seratonin molecules already present. After each seratonin molecule has had a chance to transmit the signal across the gap by hitting a target receptor, it is either destroyed or reabsorbed by the nerve cell that released it. Antidepressant drugs like Prozac (c) block the reabsorption of seratonin. If it is not removed from the gap, the seratonin neurotransmitter molecules just keep smashing into receptors on the far side, triggering them to fire the nerve cell receiving the signal again and again.

From this research into depression a general rule emerged: Mind-altering drugs often work by prolonging the time the neurotransmitter persists in the gaps between nerves. They increase the number of "hits" of target receptors by simply allowing the neurotransmitter molecules to keep on shooting. Just as in a basketball game, the score increases if the game goes into overtime.
Search for the Chemical Nature of Addiction
The deep lesson learned from the studies of depression is that it is possible to understand mind-altering events in the brain at a molecular level. Part of a wave of research into the chemistry of the brain in recent decades, it sparked new investigations into many problems, one of them the chemical nature of drug addiction.

An immediate focus of research was the highly addictive drug cocaine. Cocaine affects nerve cells of the brain's pleasure pathways (the so-called limbic system). These cells transmit pleasure messages using the neurotransmitter dopamine. Each cell communicates with the next by releasing dopamine into the gap, like pellets from a shotgun blast; the cell receiving the signal possess targets (the receptor proteins) that the pellets hit. The more receptor targets present on the surface of the receiving cell, the more likely a hit will occur, passing the signal to the receiving cell.

Investigators soon learned how cocaine stimulates the pleasure pathways to increase their rate of firing. Using radioactively-labelled cocaine molecules, they found that cocaine binds tightly to the carrier proteins in the gap between nerves that normally removes the neurotransmitter dopamine after it has acted. Like a game of musical chairs in which all the chairs become occupied, there are no unoccupied carrier proteins available to the dopamine molecules, so they stay in the gap, firing the receptors again and again. As new signals arrive, more and more dopamine is added, firing the pleasure pathway more and more often.

When the cells of your body are exposed to chemical signals for a prolonged period of time, they tend to loose their ability to respond to the stimulus with its original intensity. When you put on a wristwatch, how long are you aware you are wearing it? Nerve cells are particularly affected by this sort of loss of sensitivity. When receptor proteins on limbic system nerve cells are exposed to high levels of dopamine neuro- transmitter molecules for prolonged periods of time, the nerve cells "turn down the volume" of the signal by lowering the number of receptor proteins on their surfaces. They respond to the greater number of neurotransmitter molecules by simply reducing the number of targets available for these molecules to hit, a feedback process that is a normal part of the functioning of all nerve cells. The cocaine user is now addicted. With so few receptors, the user needs the drug to maintain even normal levels of limbic activity.
Is Nicotine an Addictive Drug?
Investigators attempting to explore the habit-forming nature of nicotine used what had been learned about cocaine to carry out what seems a reasonable experiment -- they introduced radioactively-labelled nicotine into the brain and looked to see what sort of carrier protein it attached itself to. To their great surprise, the nicotine ignored proteins in the between-cell gaps and instead bound directly to a specific receptor on the receiving nerve cell surface! This was totally unexpected, as nicotine does not normally occur in the brain -- why should it have a receptor there?

Intensive research followed, and researchers soon learned that the "nicotine receptors" were in fact designed to bind the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and it was just an accident of nature that nicotine, an obscure chemical from a tobacco plant, was also able to bind to them. What then is the normal function of these receptors? The target of considerable research, these receptors turn out to be one of the brain's most important tools. The brain uses them to coordinate the activities of many other kinds of receptors, acting to "fine tune" the sensitivity of a wide variety of behaviors.

When neurobiologists compare the limbic system nerve cells of smokers to those of nonsmokers, they find changes in both the number of nicotine receptors and in the levels of RNA used to make the receptors. They have found that the brain adjusts to prolonged exposure to nicotine by "turning down the volume" in two ways: 1. by making fewer receptor proteins to which nicotine can bind; 2. by altering the pattern of activation of the nicotine receptors (that is, their sensitivity to neurotransmitter).

It is this second adjustment that is responsible for the profound effect smoking has on the brain's activities. By overriding the normal system used by the brain to coordinate its many activities, nicotine alters the pattern of release into gaps between nerve cells of many neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, and many others. As a result, changes in level of activity occur in a wide variety of nerve pathways within the brain.

Addiction occurs when chronic exposure to nicotine induces the nervous system to adapt physiologically. The brain compensates for the many changes induced by nicotine by making other changes. Adjustments are made to the numbers and sensitivities of many kinds of receptors within the brain, restoring an appropriate balance of activity.

Now what happens if you stop smoking? Everything is out of whack! The newly coordinated system requires nicotine to achieve an appropriate balance of nerve pathway activities. This is addiction in any sensible use of the term. The body's physiological response is profound and unavoidable. There is no way to prevent addiction to nicotine with willpower, any more than willpower can stop a bullet when playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun. If you smoke cigarettes for a prolonged period, you will become addicted.
Quitting Smoking
So what do you do, if you are addicted to smoking cigarettes and you want to stop? When use of an addictive drug like nicotine is stopped, the level of signaling along the many affected pathways will change to levels far from normal. If the drug is not reintroduced, the altered level of signalling will eventually induce the nerve cells to once again make compensatory changes that restore an appropriate balance of activities within the brain. Over time, receptor numbers, their sensitivity, and patterns of release of neurotransmitters all revert to normal, once again producing normal levels of signalling along the pathways. There is no way to avoid the down side. The pleasure pathways will not function at normal levels until the number of receptors on the affected nerve cells have time to readjust.

Many people attempting to quit smoking use patches containing nicotine to help them, the idea being that providing nicotine removes the craving for cigarettes. This is true, it does -- so long as you keep using the patch. Actually, using such patches simply substitutes one (admittedly less dangerous) nicotine source for another. If you are going to quit smoking, there is no way to avoid the necessity of eliminating the drug to which you are addicted, nicotine. Hard as it is to hear the bad news, there is no easy way out. The only way to quit is to quit.
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Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 18:59

11 Apr 2004, 03:28 #2

Quitting is a temporary adjustment.
Here's to a speedy recovery of those neurotransmitters on their way back to normal.
You always have the skinny John...Thanks.
Butterflies 80 days

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

19 Feb 2005, 23:08 #3

Image What is nicotine addiction?
Nicotine is the tobacco plant's natural protection from being eaten by insects. Drop for drop it's more lethal than strychnine and three times deadlier than arsenic. Yet, amazingly, by chance, this natural insecticide's chemical structure is so similar to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine that once inside the brain it fits a host of chemical locks permitting it direct and indirect control over the flow of more than 200 neurochemicals.

Within eight seconds of that first-ever inhaled puff, through dizzy, coughing and six shades of green, nicotine arrived at the brain's reward pathways where it generated an unearned flood of dopamine, resulting in an immediate yet possibly unrecognized "aaahhh" reward sensation. Sensing it would cause most first-time inhalers to soon return to steal more. Nicotine also fit the adrenaline locks releasing a host of fight or flight neurochemicals and select serotonin locks impacting mood.
Brain Defenses Create Dependency
A toxic poison, the brain's defenses fought back but in doing so they had no choice but to also turn down the mind's sensitivity to acetylcholine, the body's conductor of an entire orchestra of neurochemicals.

In some neuro-circuits the brain diminished the number of receptors available to receive nicotine, in others it diminished the number of available transporters and in still other regions it grew millions and millions of extra acetylcholine receptors (up-regulation), almost as if trying to protect itself by more widely disbursing the arriving pesticide.

There was only one problem. All the physical changes engineered a new tailored neurochemical sense of normal built entirely upon the presence of nicotine. Now, any attempt to stop using it would come with a risk of intermittent temporary hurtful anxieties and powerful mood shifts. A true chemical addiction was born. Returning home to the "real you" now had a price. Gradually the calmness and comfort associated with being the "real you" faded into distant or even forgotten memory.

The brain's protective adjustments insured that any attempt to stop would leave you temporarily desensitized. Your dopamine reward system would briefly offer-up few rewards, your nervous system would see altering the status quo as danger and sound an emotional anxiety alarm throughout your body, and mood circuitry might briefly find it difficult to climb beyond depression.
The Recovery Process
Successful nicotine dependency recovery is in maintaining the motivations, dreams and patience needed to allow: (1) the physical mind time to re-sensitize itself and re-adjust to functioning normally again; (2) the subconscious mind time to encounter and re-condition the bulk of its nicotine feeding cues that triggered brief anxiety episodes in an attempt to gain compliance; and (3) the conscious mind time to either allow years of defensive dependency rationalizations to fade into distant memory, or the intelligent quitter time to more rapidly destroy their impact through honest reflection.

The ex-smoker will find themselves enjoying a deep and rich sense of inner quiet, calmness, and tranquility once their temporary journey of re-adjustment is substantially complete.

The body's nicotine reserves decline by about half every two hours. It's not only the basic chemical half-life clock which determines mandatory nicotine feeding times, when quitting it's also the clock that determines how long it takes before the brain begins bathing in nicotine free blood-serum, the moment that real healing begins.

It can take up to 72 hours for the blood-serum to become nicotine-free and 90% of nicotine's metabolites to exit the body via your urine. It's then that the anxieties associated with readjustment normally peak in intensity and begin to gradually decline.

But just one powerful "hit" of nicotine and you'll again face another 72 hours of detox anxieties. It's why the one puff survival rate is almost zero. None of us are stronger than nicotine but then we don't need to be as it is simply a chemical with an I.Q. of zero. It does not plot, plan or conspire and is not some demon within us. Our most effective weapon against it is, and always has been, our vastly superior intelligence but only if put to work.
Nicotine Replacement Products
The key to nicotine dependency recovery is not in dragging out the 72 hours of detox by toying for weeks or months with gradual nicotine weaning or other creative means for delivering nicotine. The nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) industry want smokers to believe that a natural poison is medicine, that its use is therapy, and that it is somehow different from the tobacco plant's nicotine molecule. The truth is that the pharmaceutical industry buys its nicotiana from the exact same growers as the tobacco industry. They want you to believe that double-blind placebo controlled studies proved that NRT doubles a cold turkey quitters odds of quitting and that only superheros can quit without it. The truth is that their studies were not blind as claimed, and that all but a tiny sliver of earth's successful quitters are quitting entirely on their own. Here are a few facts that those selling creative nicotine delivery devices would rather you not know:
  • Nicotine is a psychoactive drug whose "high" provides a dopamine "aaahhh" sensation and an adrenaline rush. Would you have been able to tell, within 5 minutes, whether the gum or lozenge you'd been given contained the nicotine equilivent of smoking two cigarettes or was instead a nicotine-free placebo? So could they. A 2004 study found that NRT studies suffered from massive wide-spread blinding failures (May 2004)
  • A nicotine smoker's natural odds of quitting for six months, entirely on their own, without any products, procedures, education programs, counseling or formal support is roughly 10% (June 2000)
  • Those using the over-the-counter (OTC) nicotine patch or gum as a stand-alone quitting tool have only a 7% chance of quitting smoking for six months (March 2003)
  • Up to 7% of OTC nicotine gum quitters are still chronic users of nicotine gum at six months (May 2004). Question: isn't 7 minus 7 still zero? (May 2004)
  • 36.6% of all current nicotine gum users are chronic long-term users (May 2004)
  • You truly would have to be a superhero to quit while using the nicotine patch if you've already attempted using it once and relapsed. The only two patch user "recycling" studies ever conducted have both shown that nearly 100% of second-time nicotine patch users relapse to smoking nicotine within six months (April 1993 and August 1995, see Table 3)
  • 91.2% of all successful long-term ex-smokers quit entirely on their own without resort to any product, procedure or program of any kind including hypnosis, Zyban, Wellbutrin, acupuncture, magic herbs, laser therapy, or the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, spray, or inhaler (ACS 2003)
  • Education, understanding, new skills and serious support can more than triple your natural six-month odds of 10% (April 2003)
  • Those who refuse to allow any nicotine back into their bloodstream have 100% odds of remaining nicotine free today! (Today, Tomorrow & Always!)
Education Destroys Dependency Ignorance
Is encountering your subconsciously conditioned nicotine feeding cue (times, places, events, emotions) that are in need of reconditioning a bad thing? Are almost all cues reconditioned and broken by a single victory in not providing the demanded substance? Is time distortion a normal recovery symptom? Do all subconscious crave episodes last less than three minutes? Can distortion make the minutes feel like hours? Can looking at a clock bring honest perspective? Does the number of episodes peak at an average of six on day three and decline to just 1.2 crave episodes per day by day 10?

If "average," can you handle up to 18 minutes of serious anxiety (3 minutes x 6 episodes)? If you have established twice as many nicotine feeding cues as he average smoker can you handle up to 36 minutes of challenge on your most challenging day of recovery?

Does nicotine really double the rate at which caffeine is metabolized? Will your caffeine blood-serum level really increase by 203% if you drink the exact same amount of caffeine after ending all nicotine use? If you are a heavy caffeine user can elevated levels of caffeine cause additional anxieties making nicotine dependency recovery harder than need be?

Why could you skip breakfast and even lunch when smoking nicotine and never feel true hunger pains? Can difficulty concentrating during early recovery, and other low blood sugar type symptoms, often be easily corrected by simply learning that nicotine is no longer your spoon feeding you stored fats and sugars, and that you must again learn to properly fuel your body? How can temporarily (72 hours) drinking natural acidic fruit juices like cranberry help to both stabilize blood sugar and accelerate depletion of your body's reserves of the alkaloid nicotine?

These are only a few of the hundreds and hundreds of nicotine dependency recovery issues explored in detail at, a free online motivation, education and peer support forum. If you are addicted to nicotine we invite you to sample the juice of understanding and the amazing world of online nicotine dependency recovery. I think you'll be surprised at how much there is to learn about the deadly insecticide that now commands your brain, controls your health and will likely determine your life-expectancy.

The next few minutes are all that matter and each is entirely doable. It may not always be easy but it is simple. There was always only one rule: no nicotine today! John (Gold x5)

Last edited by John (Gold) on 07 Feb 2009, 18:35, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:03

11 Mar 2005, 21:19 #4

Wow!! This is an incredile post. I can't believe I've never read it. Guess it just goes to show that there's always some new treasure to be uncovered here.

Thanks, John for posting this. This has to be one of the most profound posts I've read yet.

Tiff - One month, one week, four days, 6 hours, 48 minutes and 57 seconds. 930 cigarettes not smoked, saving $279.07. Life saved: 3 days, 5 hours, 30 minutes.

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

29 Mar 2005, 23:29 #5

Adjustment to re-sensitization
Coming to terms with years of denial rationalizations,
Yep! Just one hour, challenge and day at a time recovery is doable!

JoeJFree Gold
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

14 Sep 2005, 11:45 #6

A mention of successful CT quit rates in a recent post brought to mind this article which I keep bookmarked in my Internet Favorites folder with several others. The evidence speaks for itself, counselor.Image

JoeJFree of Nicotine's Grasp and Healing for Eight Months, Three Days, 13 Hours and 28 Minutes, (246 days)
I've not smoked 6164 death sticks, and saved $1,236.04.
I've saved 34 days, 5 hours and 52 minutes of my life

Crystal View1.ffn
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:03

12 Nov 2005, 11:16 #7

The past couple of days have been somewhat of a challenge. Oh, not like they used be! Image A couple of days ago, I was even realizing that I had not "cried" because I don't smoke anymore in a long time. Please note that I said "don't smoke", it is a choice every day and I CHOOSE TO NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF! That is a milestone! Image

But, the past couple of days…Image It is November, it is getting colder, it is getting near the holidays and I went to the mall tonight, work is reved up because we are doing the very biggest project we have ever done and it is exhilerating and so exciting, I am doing some "heart" work and I am not sure "where " I am going with it!, and, well, IT IS LIFE ISN'T IT. Image

So, when I connected with my "life-line" and support family tonight and saw this post (that, by the way, I have never read before), I knew I was ok, supported, loved and cool for today!

Thanks Joejfree for bringing this post up tonight! Katie

Katie - After 40 Years! Free and Healing for One Year, Twenty Five Days, 13 Hours and 7 Minutes, while extending my life expectancy 23 Days and 1 Hour, by avoiding the use of 6639 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $1,349.40.

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:01

16 Jan 2006, 01:03 #8

I must be retraining a few receptors today! Thanks, johnnynonic and John,
for bringing this forward. I needed to read it.
Libby - almost 2 months quit after 37 years

Sal GOLD.ffn
Joined: 16 Jan 2003, 08:00

01 Apr 2006, 22:37 #9

Image This is a temporary time of re-adjustment. It gets better and better and better!
Never take another puff, dip, or chew. No nicotine today, one day at a time.

From above:
So what do you do, if you are addicted to smoking cigarettes and you want to stop? When use of an addictive drug like nicotine is stopped, the level of signaling along the many affected pathways will change to levels far from normal.

If the drug is not reintroduced, the altered level of signalling will eventually induce the nerve cells to once again make compensatory changes that restore an appropriate balance of activities within the brain.

Over time, receptor numbers, their sensitivity, and patterns of release of neurotransmitters all revert to normal, once again producing normal levels of signalling along the pathways. There is no way to avoid the down side. The pleasure pathways will not function at normal levels until the number of receptors on the affected nerve cells have time to readjust.

Sal GOLD.ffn
Joined: 16 Jan 2003, 08:00

14 Apr 2006, 06:58 #10

Healing is happening. Be patient. Celebrate!
Never take another puff, dip, or chew.
No nicotine, ever!