The same gene variations that make it difficult to stop smoking also increase the likelihood that heavy smokers will respond to nicotine-replacement therapy and drugs that thwart cravings, a new study shows.
Research undertaken by scientists at Baylor College of Medicine takes big steps in helping to explain why it is so hard for smokers to quit their addiction. Smoking enhances dopamine release, and when a smoker attempts to quit, dopamine levels lower significantly. The lapse in dopamine levels can prompt a relapse for smokers who are trying to quit. The authors suggest medications which could elevate dopamine levels when a smoker is trying to quit, could be key to a non-smoking life style and help to prevent relapse.