Scientists at the University of Copenhagen studied the immediate reaction in the brain after quitting smoking. The study finds that smokers may find it easier to kick the butt if they stop smoking gradually than if they quit abruptly.
Brain scans showed that the brain's oxygen uptake and blood flow decreases by up to 17 per cent immediately after people stop smoking.
AdvertisementProfessor Albert Gjedde, neuroscience researcher at the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology said that, "Regular smokers experience an almost dementia-like condition in the early hours after quitting, as suggested by brain scans. This can be quite an unpleasant experience, and is probably one of the reasons why it can be very difficult to quit smoking once and for all."
"Smokers drift back into abuse, perhaps not to obtain a pleasant effect - that ship has sailed - but simply because the withdrawal symptoms are unbearable," the professor added.
They also compare the nicotine in tobacco smoke with other pharmacologically active substances.
"After a period of time, many users of medicine will no longer experience an effect from treatment. However, the consequences of discontinuing treatment could still be overwhelming if the withdrawal symptoms are very unpleasant," Gjedde said.
The research was published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism.