For those of us who have tried repeatedly to quit smoking--or at least have thought about it a few times--but who cannot seem to put down the ciggies, a new study announced this week at the Society for Neuroscience Conference in San Diego reveals for the first time that cigarette smoking stimulates the release of opiods (not to mention dopamine) in the brain. Yep, opiods. Thus, when you hear a smoker say that quitting the habit can be more difficult than quitting heroin, there is actually now some proof to this claim.
In other SfN news, researchers believe they have found a connection between continued sobriety in recovering alcoholics and disturbed sleep patterns:
"There is a strong relationship between alcohol and sleep," said Dwayne Godwin, Ph.D., senior researcher. "Many people have sleep problems when they stop drinking. If we could stabilize sleep, or take it back to a normal rhythm, it would address one of the reasons that alcoholics go back to drinking."
Godwin and colleagues studied the relationship between sleep and alcohol in monkeys. They found that in animals that chronically drank alcohol, the brain attempts to increase a particular protein associated with brain waves that are important to normal sleep.
The finding suggests that new medications to target the protein might improve sleep in chronic alcohol users.