Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms Often Leads to Relapse, Scientists Explain Why

by Tanya Thomas on Sep 20 2008 3:45 PM

Smokers who finally work up the nerve to kick the butt often end up deeper into the addiction some time later. Scientists have now gained sufficient insight into why this happens and are also in a position to explain how to prevent it. Functional changes in the brain which cause such relapses can be effectively treated by proven methods.

Data from two different studies, highlighted at a symposium during an annual meeting for family physicians in San Diego, suggest that smoking relapses occur when nicotine withdrawal causes such functional changes in the brains of those trying to kick the butt as trigger cognitive performance deficits.

However, such changes symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can be reversed with the help of the Commit nicotine tablets.

"The new research provides powerful new evidence as to why physicians need to intervene and help their patients understand and manage symptoms to help them quit successfully," said Dr. C. Everett Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General and driving force behind the 1988 Surgeon General's report entitled: The Health Consequences of Smoking: Nicotine Addiction.

"Physicians should use these new data as reasons to speak with their patients to help them better understand their addiction, including the serious impact of withdrawal and how proven treatments can help reverse nicotine withdrawal symptoms that impact the brain," the expert said.

The studies reviewed the impact of nicotine withdrawal on the brain, and demonstrated that the Commit 4 mg nicotine lozenge could significantly help reverse nicotine withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking.

They also suggested that specific areas in the brain, particularly those associated with executive functioning, are impacted during nicotine withdrawal.

The data further showed that the Commit tablet significantly improved cognitive performance as compared to placebo, and lessened symptoms of withdrawal including craving, difficulty concentrating, irritability and restlessness.

Other nicotine withdrawal symptoms including short-term memory deficit, and selective and divided attention deficits were also significantly reduced.

"In withdrawal, a smoker's brain is literally in dysfunction and this can impair the quitter's ability to think and act," said Dr. Jack Henningfield, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Vice President of Research and Health Policy at Pinney Associates and consultant to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare.

"Research on the brain in withdrawal is important as it helps physicians and smokers trying to quit recognize and manage the symptoms. For smokers who experience withdrawal and can't afford lapse in concentration or judgement, FDA-approved medicines for smoking cessation such as the Commit lozenge may make the difference between success and failure in their smoking cessation efforts," he added.