Researchers at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) have revealed that influencing brain mechanisms may help people break their addiction to nicotine.
Researchers discovered that nicotine has significant effects on brain GABA, a chemical substance of the central nervous system that inhibits neurons in the brain, which could potentially help curtail the effects of nicotine.
Graeme Mason, Ph.D., associate professor in the Magnetic Resonance Research Center in the Departments of Diagnostic Radiology and Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and an ACNP member said that the research would lead them to find ways for quitting smoking.
"GABA is just one of a complex network of actors that promotes addiction, and we're hoping that this research will ultimately lead us to ways to help people quit smoking," said Mason.
The researchers gave people, who smoked regularly, nicotine inhalers that deliver the same amount of the drug as in one cigarette.
The findings showed that the amount of GABA in the subjects' brains rose about 10 percent, but the brain was found to make GABA four times faster after using the inhalers, and the rate of new GABA generation remained high for at least 45 minutes.
This denoted that by keeping the supply of GABA levels high has the potential to reduce the pleasurable effects of smoking, in terms of duration and intensity.
Tobacco is one of the most widely used substances; it kills more than 435,000 Americans each year, and despite increasing public awareness of the health risks associated with its use, little reduction in smoking prevalence has been achieved nationwide in recent years.
The study was presented at the American College of ACNP annual meeting.