Tobacco

Hooked on the Myth of Instantly Addictive Cigarettes

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Digging through a pile of medical journals, New York Times health reporter Jane Brody discovers that cigarettes are instantly addictive:

Dire warning to all adolescents: You can get "hooked from the first cigarette."

Brody is quoting an article (available for $10) from the December Journal of Family Practice in which tobacco researcher Joseph R. DiFranza warns that "one cigarette may be all it takes to get hooked." But DiFranza immediately back-pedals:

Hooked from the first cigarette?

You bet.

Very soon after that first cigarette, adolescents can experience a loss of autonomy over tobacco, and recent research indicates that this loss of autonomy may play a key role in nicotine addiction.

Notice how the claim of instant addiction quickly becomes a claim that some time after the first cigarette (possibly after the 10th or 100th?) smokers may begin to experience "loss of autonomy," which ultimately could play a role in addiction. And how is this "loss of autonomy" measured? With a 10-point checklist:

1.Have you ever tried to quit smoking, but couldn't?
2.Do you smoke now because it is really hard to quit?
3.Have you ever felt like you were addicted to tobacco?
4.Do you ever have strong cravings to smoke?
5.Have you ever felt like you really needed a cigarette?
6.Is it hard to keep from smoking in places where you are not supposed to, like school?

When you tried to stop smoking (or, when you haven't used tobacco for a while):

7.Did you find it hard to concentrate because you couldn't smoke?
8.Did you feel more irritable because you couldn't smoke?
9.Did you feel a strong need or urge to smoke?
10.Did you feel nervous, restless, or anxious because you couldn't smoke?

If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, according to DiFranza, you have experienced "loss of autonomy" and are well on your way to a cigarette habit that will give you lung cancer when you're 65. In a sentence that Brody quotes, DiFranza says "three New Zealand national surveys involving 25,722 adolescent smokers who used this checklist revealed a loss of autonomy in 25% to 30% of young people who had smoked their one and only cigarette during the preceding month." How plausible is it that someone who has smoked exactly one cigarette in his life has tried to quit smoking but couldn't, or feels strong cravings for a cigarette, or gets irritable and has trouble concentrating when he can't smoke? Maybe teenagers who have tried cigarettes sometimes say such things because they believe that's what a smoker would say, and they are experimenting with that identity. Or maybe they are just screwing with the people conducting the survey.

Neither DiFranza nor Brody considers these possibilities. Brody is so eager to believe in the overwhelming power of nicotine that she does not even notice how she contradicts herself. After quoting a tobacco researcher who notes that "the vast majority of teenagers who try one or two cigarettes don't go on to become smokers," Brody blithely asserts that "smoking by youngsters…typically leads to a lifetime of smoking."

This sort of misrepresentation reinforces the myth that nicotine is irresistible and inescapable, which is counterproductive for at least two reasons that DiFranza and Brody should be able to appreciate. Teenagers who experiment with tobacco or observe peers who do so will quickly discover that addiction takes more than a single cigarette. Having seen through the scare tactics aimed at stopping them from taking that first puff, they may be inclined to dismiss better-grounded concerns about, say, the long-term health consequences of a pack-a-day habit or the difficulty of giving up cigarettes once you've come to depend on them as a way of relieving stress. And if they do eventually become regular smokers, exaggerating the enslaving power of nicotine will discourage them from trying to quit and from persisting in the attempt.  

I commented on earlier attempts to portray cigarettes as instantly addictive here and here

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  1. Anecdotal experience here, but I tried my first (and only) cigarette at the age of 15 and it just made me want to vomit. I don’t understand the allure of cigarettes. Never been back since.

  2. Jacob, your work on this issue has been tireless and invaluable. I read For Your Own Good cover-to-cover back in high school; it’s still one of my favorite policy books and was a big influence in moving me further towards libertarianism.

    I enjoy tobacco in some form about every two weeks or so, but I am careful with it and am not in any way addicted. According to every health teacher I ever had, this should be impossible.

  3. I quit smoking really easily. I just started chewing.

    I definitely believe I have a loss of autonomy over sex however.

  4. Well, I’m convinced. When we will start the obvious public policy initiative of getting people away from hazardous drugs like tobacco and alcohol, and onto safer alternatives like marijuana and ingested coca and opiates?

    I know this goes counter to our cultural prejudices, but they must be overcome. THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

  5. Typical bullshit from the anti-tobacco industry. Unless you compare it to sex addiction, shopping addiction, TV addiction and a host of others, nicotine is not physically addictive. Smoking, however can be such a pleasurable experience for many often makes it a difficult habit to give up.If nicotine was as addictive as claimed, the nicotine replacement products pushed by Big Pharma would be effective, and you would have millions “addicted” to nicotine gum.

  6. Dire warning to all adolescents: You can get instantly cool from the first cigarette.

  7. Typical bullshit from the anti-tobacco industry.

    Agreed, but this is also bullshit: …nicotine is not physically addictive.

    I don’t buy the single cigarette bit, but I was physically addicted. I did quit (28 years ago), but it was very hard and I suffered physical withdraws symptoms. To this day I still occasionally crave a smoke, especially after a large meal with my desert and a cup of coffee. I will admit that I was a very heavy smoker; two plus packs a day.

  8. I have had one cigarette, smoked during my teen years and causing reactions similar to Cesar’s above. I smoked my only cigar — a Cuban — a few years ago, and enjoyed it very much. But I wasn’t inspired to pick up the habit, and an opportunity to smoke another hasn’t come up since then.

    My mother, on the other hand, started smoking early and never quit. She died at 64, of complications of emphysema and lung cancer that spread to her brain. One of the last memories I have of her is when she practically begged me for cigarettes that the healthcare facility had denied her.

    As far as I know, my Dad never smoked anything, and preached abstinence for tobacco, booze, and illicit drugs. His lifetime of “clean living” and hard work got him to 82 with all of his own teeth, but he died well short of his 100-year goal.

    So, in my own life, I have seen:

    1) Tobacco can be addictive
    2) Tobacco isn’t necessarily addictive, and certainly not after just one cigarette or cigar
    3) Many other things are addictive, but never overwhelmingly, irresistibly so
    4) People who are never addicted to anything still die

    Unfortunately, the government has elected to pursue my Dad’s position of zero-tolerance abstinence, which has always seemed like counterproductive overkill to me. I believe in “inoculation”: facing down and learning to master things that otherwise might control or afflict us. So far, that policy has worked pretty well, but it is a hard road to travel in the land of a authoritarian, therapeutic, nanny state. Can someone point me to the land of the free and the home of the brave? I seem to have lost directions…

  9. nicotine is not physically addictive
    Horseshit. The anti-tobacco zealots are silly, but that doesn’t mean we need to be sillier.

  10. I know someone who stopped smoking about six years ago, more than a decade after he apparently lost his autonomy.

  11. Nicotine is extremely physically addictive if you get hooked. Unlike marijuana, which is illegal. Hmm…

  12. Has anyone ever done a study of how easy it is to get addicted to telling other people how to live their lives? Is that first hit of nagging instantly addictive or does it take awhile to work into your system?

    If anyone ever denies the nanny state or rejects the slippery slope argument, punch them in the throat a say “cigarettes.”

  13. more than a decade after he apparently lost his autonomy.

    So he got married? Ex-smoker and married. Poor bastard.

  14. What if you change “to smoke” with “to masturbate” in all those questions on that list?
    A LOT more loss of autonomy!
    We really need some regulations there.
    Think of the children…

  15. If you answer yes to one or more of these questions…[you] are well on your way to a cigarette habit that will give you lung cancer when you’re 65.

    That is an outright lie. Nowhere near 100% of the people who smoke get lung cancer. In fact, in the studies I have read only a minority of smokers will ever get lung cancer. And not everyone who does get lung cancer will have it by age 65. With such hyperbole there is nothing coming from this movement that is worth taking seriously.

  16. Once again, I gotta point out that there’s middle ground between believing the government shouldn’t meddle in personal choice (reasonable) and believing that nicotine isn’t even addictive (retarded).

    Anything that’s so hard to quit using that people will still smoke it through a hole in their throat is fucking addictive.

  17. P.S. Though I don’t buy that the first cigarette can get you addicted.

  18. WTF? Although I don’t like smoking and tobacco smoke, this is just silly. All the anecdotal evidence I’ve ever heard indicates that one’s first cigarette is far more likely to make one vomit.

    In fact, if it weren’t for the “cool factor” and “everyone does it”, I’m still surprised how anyone starts in the first place.

  19. Fine, cigarettes are instantly addictive and kill everyone who smokes them. They should be outlawed immediately.

    But they won’t be, because the government is addicted to tobacco taxes. They were hooked with the first dollar they got.

  20. The addictive nature of tax money as it relates to politicians is harming my health. When I have less money, the quality of my food suffers, the quality of my medicine, and it shrinks my transportation options to methods that make me brave the elements.

  21. I guess I fail this researcher’s test… namely #4. After all this crap about loss of autonomy makes me want to smoke something… and that’s something I have almost never done (three or four times in my entire life).

  22. I have significantly greater loss of autonomy over Coca-Cola, beer, Oreo Double-Stuffs, Thin Mints, those twirly pastry thingys with the creme filling, pizza, steak, carrots, broccoli, salads, milk, steaks, water, and air.

  23. I’m about to lose my autonomy for a few minutes. Anyone else coming out?

  24. Mmmm, thin mints.

    Damn you, lunchstealer!

  25. Cigarettes are partly so addictive because they are habitual. Stressed out at work? Take a smoke break. Waiting for your friend, who is late, outside the movie theater? Have a smoke. Want to have a more private conversation with the hottie you’re chatting up at the party? If she smokes, go for a smoke with her.

    That’s why nicotine gum doesn’t work well; it doesn’t address the habit. I would bet that smokeless cigarettes (if they can invent them) would be more effective. However, the feel of the smoke drawing into your lungs is part of it too–it’s how you know you got your hit.

    All that being said, tons and tons of people have quit smoking. Many people find it difficult but doable. A few find it incredibly difficult. A few (like me) find it easy. And lots of people never even start.

    The hysteria over cigarettes is mission creep from when far more people smoked. It’s like MADD; the major mission has been accomplished, but they’ll never close up shop and go home so they have to get ever more extreme.

  26. The hysteria over cigarettes is mission creep from when far more people smoked. It’s like MADD; the major mission has been accomplished, but they’ll never close up shop and go home so they have to get ever more extreme.

    Yes, the hyperbole from both sides will never end.

    One the one hand you have silly claims (see above) that tobacco is instantly addictive, which can be used by someone like Jacob Sullum to point out that the anti-tobaccoists are just crazy, and will use bad science to convince you.

    On the other hand, you have silly claims (see thread above) that ignore the good science that shows tobacco is both addictive and harmful. The anti-Sullum can use these claims to show that the pro-tobaccoists are just crazy and will use bad science to convince you.

    My problem is with the Sullums and the Anti-Sullums who dress their presentation of these extreme views up like they are representative of either the pro-tobaccoist or anti-tobaccoist positions.

    Tobacco can be both addictive and harmful, and you can still make an argument against tighter regulation (or any regulation, whatever).

    Likewise, it can be possible to use tobacco in ways that are not harmful, without getting addicted, and a case can be made that people should be concerned over its negative effects and reasonably advocate policies which discourage its use.

    Most of us live in the middle ground between the extremes.

    Propagandist shouting over our heads are annoying no matter what the issue is or which side they shout from.

  27. I smoked a pack, pack and a half a day for several years.

    I basically quit cold turkey – no patch, no gum, no nothing other than a few bummed cigarettes at parties.

    I don’t recall any particular physical or psychological side effects. I don’t see how my experience is consistent with cigarettes being “addictive” in any strong sense of the word.

    It wasn’t even that hard a habit to break, frankly.

  28. Timmy Mac was more concise than I, alas.

  29. Pragmatists jabbering at us from the middle are annoying no matter what the issue.

  30. Cholinergic modulation of dopaminergic reward areas: upstream and downstream targets of nicotine addiction

    Huibert D. Mansveldera, Mischa De Rovera, Daniel S. McGeheeb and Arjen B. Brussaarda

    European Journal of Pharmacology
    Volume 480, Issues 1-3, 7 November 2003, Pages 117-123

    Abstract

    Nicotine reinforces smoking behaviour by activating nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the midbrain dopaminergic reward centres. Upstream of the dopaminergic neurons nicotine induces long-term potentiation of the excitatory input to dopamine cells in the ventral tegmental area, and depresses inhibitory inputs. Both effects of nicotine were shown to last much longer than the nicotine exposure and together will activate the dopaminergic ventral tegmental area projection toward the nucleus accumbens. However, downstream of dopamine, effects of nicotine are also likely to occur. Cholinergic interneurons within the nucleus accumbens are important in the tonic control of the ?-amino buteric acid (GABA) nucleus accumbens output neurons, which project back to the ventral tegmental area. The nicotinic acetylcholine receptors that mediate this control are likely to desensitise upon preexposure to the nicotine concentrations found in the blood of smokers. Thus, synaptic mechanisms both upstream and downstream of dopamine release are potentially important factors contributing to the etiology of nicotine addiction.

    …These findings are consistent with the observation from cellular studies that profound changes in the synaptic physiology of the brain reward system can be observed after a single exposure to nicotine [Mansvelder and McGehee, 2000]. This is likely true for most drugs of abuse, since a single exposure to amphetamines and morphine can also cause long-term changes in both behaviour and neurochemistry [Vanderschuren et al., 1999 and Vanderschuren et al., 2001], and a single administration of cocaine to neonatal rats can induce long-term potentiation of the excitatory inputs to ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons that persists for up to 10 days [Ungless et al., 2001]. Consistent with the idea that this phenomenon contributes to the effects of many abused substances, a single administration of alcohol, amphetamine, nicotine or acute stress induced long-term potentiation of excitatory inputs to dopamine neurons [Saal et al., 2003]. Thus, the very first exposure to an addictive substance may leave its mark in the brain for a long time…

  31. The point being, of course, that a single exposure may have measurable impacts on your neurophysiology…but that neurophysiology does not equal behavior…and addiction is usually discussed at the level of behavior.

    You aren’t addicted unless you have compulsive behavior to do something (compulsive meaning you do it even when you subjective don’t want to).

    You are not physically addicted unless the above compulsive behavior is also associated with physiologically measurable effects.

    Yadda yadda,

    Citizen Nothing,
    touch

  32. subjectively, that is.

  33. This is an example of the distortive use of the word “autonomy” by the public health & medical ethics crowds. If just 1 “yes” on the quiz indicates loss of automony, then autonomy must be some sort of nirvana or even apathy, a state of lack of desire wherein you never miss or want anything.

    The medical ethics bunch is very concerned with “autonomy”, and a superficial take on that would be that they’re pro-liberty — except that autonomy is equivocated by them into a meaning very differfent from freedom. Admittedly the example given by Jacob Sullum is an extreme one, but some equivocation is usually involved so that the valuing of liberty is transferred to a different agenda.

  34. The definition of addiction itself is subjective and misleading.
    What is the difference between ‘cannot quit’ and ‘will not quit’? Just because part of you wants to do something but you don’t muster the determination to do it, does not mean you are incapable. The point missed by all these debates is the concept of choice. People talk and act as if they have no choice when it comes to addiction. Just because the choice is difficult for them, does not mean the decision process is gone.
    It is not impossible for anybody to quit, so as far as I’m concerned cigarettes are not addictive. If you disagree with that, it is only because you define addiction differently than I do.

  35. How is Manveldera et al. any different from saying:

    1. Animals can learn/remember how drugs feel.

    2. We can detect brain changes that accompany and may be responsible for learning/memory.

    #2 is very interesting, but #1 is hardly remarkable.

  36. Pinette, I concluded a long time ago that the word “addict” and its derivatives don’t deserve to exist, because they just muddy the water.

  37. I’ve smoked for years. 36 years. I do it as it seems to even out my depression cycles among other things. I tried pure, unadulterated tobacco for a while and found it to be very very unsatisfying. I assume the chemical additives are what I crave. But nicotine does act as an anti depressant.I have links if you want them.
    fwiw, I don’t smoke in the house or the cars or around non smokers. I am aware its a nasty fuggin habit and dont find it necessary to share it with others that lack my casual coolness.???

  38. tk | February 13, 2008, 2:47pm | #

    What if you change “to smoke” with “to masturbate” in all those questions on that list?
    A LOT more loss of autonomy!
    We really need some regulations there.
    Think of the children…”

    tk, DON’T FOOK WIT MY ‘BATIN!

  39. Abstract:
    Journal of Drug Issues 31(2), 325-394, 2001
    Nicotine as an Addictive Substance: A Critical Examination of the Basic Concepts and Empirical Evidence
    Dale M. Atrens
    __________
    Dale Atrens received a B.A. from the University of Windsor, an A.M. from Hollins College, and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University. He has held
    appointments at universities in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. He is currently a Reader in psychobiology at the University of Sydney.
    He is the author of several neuroscience textbooks and a number of popular books on diet and lifestyle.
    _____________
    The present review is a critical analysis of the concepts behind and the empirical data supporting the view that tobacco use represents an addiction to nicotine. It deals with general aspects of the notion of addiction, while concentrating on specific problems associated with incorporating nicotine into current frameworks. The notion of addiction suffers from unprecedented definitional difficulties. The definitions offered by various authorities are very different, even contradictory.
    Definitions that reasonably include nicotine are so broad and vague that they allow many trivial things, such as salt, sugar, and watching television, to be considered addictive. Definitions that exclude the trivia also exclude nicotine. The addiction hypothesis, in general, is strongly shaped by views that certain drugs bring about a molecular level subversion of rationality. The main human evidence for this is verbal reports of smokers who say that they can’t quit. On the other
    hand, the existence of many millions of successful quitters suggests that most people can quit. Some smokers don’t quit, but whether they can’t is another matter. The addiction hypothesis would be greatly strengthened by the demonstration that any drug of abuse produces special changes in the brain. It has yet to be shown that any drug produces changes in the brain different from those produced by many innocuous substances and events. The effects of nicotine on the brain are similar to those of sugar, salt, exercise, and other harmless substances and events. Apart from numerous conceptual and definitional inadequacies with the addiction concept in general, the notion that nicotine is addictive lacks reasonable empirical support. Nicotine does not have the properties of reference drugs of abuse. There are so many findings that conflict so starkly with the view that nicotine is addictive that it increasingly appears that adhering to the nicotine addiction thesis is only defensible on extra-scientific grounds.
    Whole thing here:http://www.forces.org/evidence/download/nicotine_addiction.pdf

  40. I love a good appeal to authority duel…

    Biochemical Pharmacology
    Volume 74, Issue 8, 15 October 2007, Pages 1263-1270
    Issue: Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors as Therapeutic Targets: Emerging Frontiers in Basic Research and Clinical Science

    “Multiple brain pathways and receptors underlying tobacco addiction”

    Jed E. Rose

    Over the last 20 years much progress has been made in understanding the pharmacologic basis of tobacco addiction. In particular, the role of nicotine in reinforcing smoking behavior has been studied from a variety of perspectives. This article discusses two important aspects of this topic: (1) brain pathways underlying tobacco addiction; and (2) the actions of nicotine at nicotinic cholinergic receptors. Recent evidence will be reviewed indicating that nicotine reinforces smoking behavior by acting on more than one subtype of nicotinic receptor. Similarly, the role of several brain pathways in tobacco addiction will be considered. Tobacco addiction may thus be seen as a complex neuropsychopharmacological disorder; further progress in smoking cessation treatment may require that we address the multiple molecular and brain components of this addiction.

    … The primary neural pathway that has been studied with respect to nicotine reinforcement has been the mesolimbic dopamine tract, with axons projecting from cell bodies in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) to frontal brain targets, including the nucleus accumbens. Nicotine stimulates burst firing in VTA neurons, resulting in enhanced dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens [7] and [14]. Activation of the dopamine reward pathway has been the hallmark of drugs of abuse, including cocaine, opiates, and alcohol [15].

    However, human brain imaging studies suggest that additional brain regions and pathways are important in tobacco dependence. In a recent study [16], the involvement of specific brain regions in different aspects of tobacco dependence was studied using positron emission tomography (PET) to assess regional cerebral metabolic rate for glucose. In this study, smokers’ degree of nicotine dependence was manipulated by switching to denicotinized cigarettes while wearing nicotine skin patches for 2 weeks. This manipulation reduced craving for cigarettes and nicotine dependence, as assessed with standard self-report measures. Three main findings emerged from this study. First, the manipulation of nicotine dependence significantly altered metabolic activity of the anterior cingulate cortex; this region had been previously implicated in studies of craving [17] as well as conflict and distress [18]. Second, changes in craving were inversely correlated with changes in metabolic activity of the striatum and orbitofrontal cortex, a target of midbrain dopamine pathways. A final, and perhaps most significant, finding of this study, was that changes in nicotine dependence scores were positively correlated with changes in metabolic activity of the thalamus. The thalamus is well known for its role in gating afferent and efferent stimulation to and from the cerebral cortex; importantly, the thalamus is also a region that contains a very high density of nicotinic receptors [19]. Metabolic activity of the thalamus – and of the amygdala – also showed strong correlations with reported smoking for calming effects. Given that one of the most frequently cited reasons for smoking is to calm down under stress, the thalamus and amygdala may play a greater role in tobacco addiction than generally recognized.

  41. I would also add that the teratogenic effects of nicotine are well established.

    These are not present in “sugar, salt, exercise,” and other substances that Atrens mentions. They suggest neurochemical potency of a different order.

    It should be pointed out that nicotine is MORE teratogenic than opiates or cocaine, also indicating more pronounced effects in neurophysiology.

    Of course, I am sure some here deny the addictive properties of opiates as well.

  42. Robert,

    That is a very good question.

    I do not think the claim is that animals learn how the drug feels in the typical sense of the word “learn.”

    These are effects that are not found with other substances, and are related to the mechanism underlying brain function.

    Introduction of substances that are unimportant for basic neural processing are less likely to have the same kind effect as introduction of substances that do play a major role in that processing.

    Nicotine and the opiates are examples of substances that are important for basic neural processing, and are regulated by the body. Introduction of an artificial source results in a change in physiology as the body tries to maintain appropriate levels of the substance.

    Broadly this could be considered learning, but I don’t think it is the kind of learning you imply.

    Anyway, Mansveldera et al. are not claiming that tobacco is instantly addictive in the way the posted article does, but it supports the view that the process that leads to addiction begins in the very early stages of exposure.

    No one really gets addicted to heroin on the first try either, but the road to addiction can be amazingly short (take it from a drummer who watched it happen to many a bandmate in the 90’s).

  43. Dire warning to all adolescents: You can get “hooked from the first cigarette.”

    What…a…coinkidink. I seem to remember a very recent study warning about the dangers of marijuana smoking.

    I also remember that people were shocked…SHOCKED that the media would trumpet such shaky conclusions.

    What say you, J sub?

    a case can be made that people should be concerned over its negative effects and reasonably advocate policies which discourage its use.

    Just Say No To Tobacco!

    Done, next policy…

  44. Your Good Buddy Johnny Clarke wrote, “Fine, cigarettes are instantly addictive and kill everyone who smokes them. They should be outlawed immediately.

    “But they won’t be, because the government is addicted to tobacco taxes. They were hooked with the first dollar they got.”

    Here we see the real meaning of “checks and balances,” methinks.

  45. I found it easier to stop having sex at 70 than to stop smoking at 40. That said, I’d like to start down the slippery slope (no pun intended) again.

  46. I started smoking when I was 15, It took way more than one cig to get addicted and you have to get used to inhaling smoke into your lungs anyways. First one nearly made me puke

  47. Between the ages of 18 and 21 I probably smoked somewhere in the range of 200-300 cigarettes, most of them in bunches at concerts or other big events. There were probably times I’d smoke a pack in a weekend and other times I’d probably go 6 months without having even one.

    The notion of one or even one hundred addictive cigarettes is just plain bogus. And given that cigarette’s are supposedly one of the most addictive drugs on the planet, I wonder how bogus some of the other numbers on addiction actually are.

  48. I do not think the claim is that animals learn how the drug feels in the typical sense of the word “learn.”

    When Eric Kandel presented his work over 20 years ago on learning in aplysia (sea snails), which he eventually worked out down to the molecular level, I said, “Well, yeah, if you call reinforcement of a reflex arc `learning’.” But I couldn’t draw a line anywhere between that and what I considered learning. So your job is to convince me that the molecular processes in what you call “addiction” are different from those that constitute “learning”.

  49. Robert,

    Actually, that’s not my job, but…

    Addiction can be considered learning at the behavioral level.

    It is a learned response to inputs from the environment.

    That environment includes the body’s own internal state, which is changed by certain substances more noticeably than others.

    When the physiology of that internal state now includes a signal that says “get me more of X!!!!!” and the entrenched response is to comply, even when other signals are saying “more X is a bad idea!!!!!Don’t do it!!!!” then you have an addiction.

    The beginnings of that physiological change that sends the stimulus to get this ball rolling, seems to be detectable quite early after nicotine exposure.

  50. Addiction can be considered learning at the behavioral level.

    How is that any different from saying learning can be considered addiction at the molecular level?

    When the physiology of that internal state now includes a signal that says “get me more of X!!!!!” and the entrenched response is to comply, even when other signals are saying “more X is a bad idea!!!!!Don’t do it!!!!” then you have an addiction.

    How is that any different from when the physiology of your having learned a good thing about X operates alongside the physiology of your having learned a bad thing about X, and your judgement saying the good is more important than the bad?

  51. Robert,

    How is that any different from saying learning can be considered addiction at the molecular level?

    Are you just playing dumb?

    How is that any different from when the physiology of your having learned a good thing about X operates alongside the physiology of your having learned a bad thing about X, and your judgement saying the good is more important than the bad?

    Does the word maladaptive mean anything to you?

  52. Addiction is defined as this:

    your judgement saying the good is more important than the bad? …BUT YOU DO THE BAD ANYWAY.

  53. btw, Robert,

    As much as I appreciate your embrace of the embodied mind concept, physical addiction (the modifier is important here) is a behavioral response to a physiological trigger. It takes both to call it an addiction.

    Again, the key is the maladaptive nature of the behavior. Doing something in the face of a desire not to do it is a behavioral response that stands out as different than a considered judgment weighing the pros and cons of the action.

    Remember, maladaptive:
    http://healthresources.caremark.com/Imagebank/Debi_Poster.jpg

  54. When you’re discussing human beings, “maladaptive” is just a matter of individual judgement. Here we have the revealed preference of some people that for them, smoking is better than not smoking. If it weren’t better, they wouldn’t keep doing it.

  55. Robert,

    Here is an interesting article on the subject.

    http://metapsychology.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=book&id=342&cn=394

    smoking is better than not smoking. If it weren’t better, they wouldn’t keep doing it.

    Given that some of these smokers will tell you flat out that they would prefer not to smoke, but can’t stop themselves, I am going to have to assume you are either being disingenuous, or lead a life isolated from human contact.

    Maladaptive behavior is not a poorly defined term, or difficult to recognize at either a subjective or objective level.

    For an example,Prader Willi Syndrome includes as one of its hallmark symptoms maladaptive eating behaviors. These result from a physiological trigger and take a response to a normal process (hunger) into the realm of maladaptive behavior.

  56. Considering addition: If nicotine is so all fired addictive, why aren’t all these people who breath secondhand smoke for years addicted?

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