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Watch what chemistry and life do to us.


Nothing personal, primitive biochemistry. There are neurons in the reward system, they are able to secrete dopamine. Their membranes have acetylcholine receptors. When a person smokes, nicotine penetrates the brain, it binds to acetylcholine receptors and excites them. Neurons, in response, begin to secrete more dopamine. The man is happy and well thought.
Theoretically, this all sounds great: it turns out that nicotine should improve memory, help a person to concentrate and cause him an intense sense of pleasure. Moreover, experiments on non-smoking volunteers who received nicotine once (in the form of a patch14 or chewing gum15) show that the ability to concentrate is indeed increasing. What a beautiful substance. There is only one problem with him: in life this does not work that way.
Living creatures in general tend to react not to a module, but to a gradient. Yes, the brain is very pleased when the level of dopamine in the reward system grows. But then the brain immediately begins to worry if the level of dopamine decreases - even if it is in absolute numbers still higher than it was before the first cigarette, but the trend is unfavorable, somehow scary. “It is necessary to smoke once again just in case”, - the caring brain hints to the owner. And if they agree on this, the reward system gets a new dose of dopamine, and the brain triumphs: “Oh, look, it helped! I will remember: cigarettes are a valuable vital resource! ”
And then more interesting. If a person begins to constantly spur his reward system, then neurons get used to the fact that substances like acetyl-choline are now in the brain a lot all the time, and begin to rearrange their acetylcholine receptors in accordance with these new circumstances16. Here is a dual effect. On the one hand, with the chronic intake of nicotine, the sensitivity of acetylcholine receptors decreases - each of them now needs more time to recover from work. On the other hand, to compensate for this sad event, neurons insert more acetylcholine receptors sensitive to nicotine into their membranes. In the brain of a dead person, you can always determine whether he smoked or not, if you count the number of these receptors. Anyway, the result of both molecular rearrangements is the same: if the supply of nicotine stops abruptly now, then in the next few weeks, until the brain is rebuilt, it will not be enough for the person to have his own acetylcholine, not only the feeling of happiness, but in general more or less acceptable level of brain function.
That is why there is no more stupid and unhappy creature in the world than a nicotine-addicted person who is not allowed to smoke. I know, I tried. For example, once I was not allowed to smoke before registering for a plane at the Israeli Ben-Gurion airport. Because of this, I looked so miserable and intense that the vigilant security service kept me busy for an hour and a half - my appearance and behavior allowed me to assume that immediately after boarding the plane I was firmly determined to gag the eyes of the pilot. And this is only against the background of hourly deprivation. And those glorious times, when I tried to survive without nicotine for several days in a row, all my friends and lovers, who managed to participate in this, are still remembered as the most terrible days in my life. During the first attempt to quit smoking, I somehow gave my husband a natural hysteria in response to the question: “You didn’t seem to be going to buy a melon?” Well, in fact, it took so many years to live and work so that your husband felt sorry for you melons because he generally considers you a loser and a dependent who does not deserve even the most ordinary fruit bought with honestly earned money! And the next year, during the second attempt, the most shameful story in my life happened to me. We went with a beautiful young man to Peter for a weekend so that I would be cleared. Let's go for a walk in the Peter and Paul Fortress. And there at the entrance stood a negro in a knight's costume. I wanted to tell my companion: “Oh, look, knight!” - but since there were huge problems with acetylcholine in the brain at that moment, then something interchanged in the speech centers - and so I discovered myself, an intelligent young lady from a large modern metropolis in multinational state, screaming for the entire bridge, "Oh, look, nigger!"
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Watch what chemistry and life do to us.

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