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Look what chemistry and life do to us.


Nothing personal, primitive biochemistry. There are neurons in the reward system, they are able to excrete dopamine. On their membranes there are receptors for acetylcholine. When a person smokes, nicotine penetrates into the brain, it binds to acetylcholine receptors and stimulates them. Neurons in response to this are beginning to allocate more dopamine. A person is happy and well-versed.
Theoretically, all this sounds wonderful: it turns out that nicotine should improve memory, help people concentrate and cause him an intense sense of pleasure. Moreover, experiments in non-smoking volunteers who once received nicotine (in the form of a patch14 or chewing gum15) show that the ability to concentrate really increases. What a beautiful substance. With him there is only one problem: in life it does not work like this.
Living beings generally 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 is growing. But 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 fearful. "We just need to smoke again, just in case," the caring brain hints to his master. And if they come to an agreement on this issue, the reward system receives a new dose of dopamine, and the brain triumphs: "Oh, look, it helped! I will remember: cigarettes are a valuable vital resource! "
And then it's even more interesting. If a person starts to constantly urge his reward system, then neurons get used to the fact that substances like acetylcholine in the brain are now all the time, and begin to rebuild their acetylcholine receptors in accordance with these new circumstances16. Here the dual effect. On the one hand, with chronic admission of nicotine, the sensitivity of acetylcholine receptors decreases - each of them now takes more time to recover from work. On the other hand, to compensate for this sad event, neurons build more acetylcholine receptors sensitive to nicotine in their membranes. On the brain of a dead person, you can always determine whether he smoked or not, if you count the number of these receptors. One way or another, the result of both molecular rearrangements is the same: if the flow of nicotine is now suddenly stopped, then in the next few weeks, until the brain is rebuilt back, one's own acetylcholine will be missed not just by the feeling of happiness, but in general by maintaining more or less acceptable level of brain work.
That is why there is no more stupid and unhappy creature in the world than a nicotine-dependent person who is not allowed to smoke. I know, I tried. For example, one day I was not given a smoke before registering for a plane at the Israeli airport Ben Gurion. Because of this, I looked so unhappy and tense that the watchful security service harassed me for an hour and a half - my appearance and behavior allowed me to assume that immediately after boarding the plane, I firmly intend to pry the pilot eyes with a clip. And this is only against a 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 beloved, who managed to participate in this, are still remembered as the most terrible days in my life. During the first attempt to quit, I somehow arranged a natural tantrum for my husband in reply to the question: "You did not seem to be going to buy a melon?" Well, it really was worth living and working for so many years 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 fruktik, bought for honestly earned money! And the next year, during the second attempt, the most shameful story in my life happened to me at all. We went with a fine young man for a weekend to St. Petersburg, so that I would disperse. We went for a walk to the Peter and Paul Fortress. And there at the entrance stood a Negro in the costume of a knight. I wanted to say to my companion: "Oh, look, knight!" - but since with acetylcholine in the brain there were huge problems at that moment, something perplexed in the speech centers - and now I found myself, an intelligent young lady from a large modern megalopolis in a multinational state, shouting to the whole bridge: "Oh, look, a Negro!"
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Look what chemistry and life do to us.

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