Easily led 'ash-tray': Adolescent smokers prone to drug abuse

Dec 11, 2009

It is common knowledge that smoking is a health risk but why do teens become addicted to smoking more easily than adults? In an evaluation for Faculty of 1000 Biology, Neil Grunberg looks into why adolescents are more prone to substance abuse.

Grunberg describes the study, published by Natividad et al. in Synapse journal, as "fascinating" and suggests it "may have implications to help understand why are particularly prone to drug abuse".

increases the level of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of pleasure and wellbeing. The study looked at dopamine levels in adolescent and adult rats after nicotine withdrawal. The authors found that the withdrawal signs (physical and neurochemical) seen in adolescent rats were fewer than those observed in adults.

The study provides previously unknown mechanisms as to why there are differences in nicotine withdrawal between adolescent and adult rats. The key here, as stated by Grunberg, is "age alters [neurological] systems and interactions relevant to nicotine".

The reason that adolescents are prone to (in this case, nicotine) is that they have increased sensitivity to its rewarding effects and do not display the same negative withdrawal effects as adults do, due to an underdeveloped dopamine-producing system.

Since rats are not subject to cultural influences, "rat studies of nicotine ... have provided valuable insights that have led to practical behavioural and pharmacological interventions", says Grunberg.

The results of this study may not stop at nicotine. Grunberg continues, "these findings might also be relevant to other addictive and abuse drugs".

More information: The full text of this article is available free for 90 days at www.f1000biology.com/article/d… jsqtzb3f1/id/1166360

An abstract of the original article Nicotine withdrawal produces a decrease in extracellular levels of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens that is lower in adolescent versus adult male rats is at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez/19771590

Source: Faculty of 1000: Biology and Medicine

Explore further: Bar attendance supports heavy drinking by young adults in the US-Mexico border region

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rodent smoke screen

Dec 08, 2009

Rats passively exposed to tobacco smoke become dependent on nicotine, according to a new study by Dr. Adrie Bruijnzeel and colleagues from the University of Florida in the US. Their findings of how rats' brains respond to ...

Recommended for you

Hospital acquisitions leading to increased patient costs

10 hours ago

The trend of hospitals consolidating medical groups and physician practices in an effort to improve the coordination of patient care is backfiring and increasing the cost of patient care, according to a new study led by the ...

Study examines effect of hospital switch to for-profit status

10 hours ago

Hospital conversion from nonprofit to for-profit status in the 2000s was associated with better subsequent financial health but had no relationship to the quality of care delivered, mortality rates, or the proportion of poor ...

Competition keeps health-care costs low, researchers find

10 hours ago

Medical practices in less competitive health-care markets charge more for services, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

User comments : 0