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New Study using Brain Scans on Smokers Shows Difficulties in Quitting

A newly released research article in JAMA shows how difficult quitting can be. (Acute, chronic nicotine dependence should be targeted differently. Lesage E, et al. JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.0400.)

The authors report on studies of individuals withdrawing from nicotine and studied with a brain scanning technology, FMRI. The subjects received Chantix(R) half the time and a placebo half the time.

They reported:

  • "Abstinent smokers exhibited increased impulsivity during withdrawal, which was mitigated with nicotine and (Chantix(R))."
  • cognitive flexibility among abstinent smokers was restored to levels comparable to nonsmokers (with the use of Chantix(R))"

This research demonstrates the challenge smokers face when quitting and the value of medication in reducing their distress. Of course, medication has its own challenges, but for those for who tolerate it well, it can be quite beneficial.



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