By Naveed Mansoori
A 38-year-old man who started smoking at 14 suffers a stroke. After three decades of chain-smoking two packs a day, his urge to pick up another cigarette simply stops.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently found that damage to the insula—the part of the brain that turns physical reactions into emotions—can eliminate the body’s urge for nicotine.
Looking to the future, there is some possibility to create a treatment emulating these effects. The AAAS has stated that the treatment would not literally damage the brain, but that they would take the information they have now and create an ethical treatment based on it.
The United States has an estimated 25.1 million men and 20.9 million women smokers. Of the roughly 46 million smokers, 400,000 die every year from tobacco-related illnesses.
The treatment is not yet developed, but the discovery has taken a large step toward being able to treat nicotine addiction.
James*, a transfer student in Porter College, has tried to quit smoking several times.
When asked if he would get treated for his nicotine addiction if it were offered on campus, he said, “Absolutely. I want the option to smoke with the ability to
Maryetta Ables, president of Forces International, an organization that promotes the freedom to “enjoy personal lifestyle choices without restrictions and state interference,” is opposed to the treatment of nicotine addiction.
“When a person wants to stop themselves, traditionally, they’ll have no problem,” Ables said. “When they want to stop smoking because of outside pressures, it’s hardly successful.”
Angie Carrillo, spokesperson for the American Cancer Society, felt that the process of quitting smoking is never easy, whether it is a matter of will or not.
“They will tell you that if they wanted to stop they would,” Carrillo said about a support group for those who have received laryngectomies. That’s why the American Cancer Society, on the educational level, says never to even start smoking.”
UCSC first-year Max Kent said he believes nicotine is not a powerfully addictive drug, and that if one wanted to quit, “you will have the power to quit.” Kent added that he would be worried about potentially negative side effects that might result from any treatment involving damage to the brain.
According to Carrillo, treatment for nicotine addiction will be especially helpful in the case of pregnant women who want to stop smoking for their pregnancies and for many others who have the desire to stop smoking but do not have the willpower
to do so.