Monday, August 11, 2008

Addiction and Your Genes

I remember trying my first (and only) cigarette when I was twelve years old.

I lit it up, took a puff and decided that it was truly a hideous thing.

I hated it. The taste. The smell. Nothing about the experience made me feel good. In fact, I felt nauseous. But there are many people who get a "high" right from cigarette one. And it becomes an addiction thereon in.

Research over the last few years has shown us how addiction has a great deal to do with genetic makeup. Read more about how a nicotine receptor gene makes it harder for individuals to kick the smoking habit. This explains why some take to smoking right away, and why others, like me, don't go past the puff of one.

Now, there must be a chocolate receptor gene that I have, but that is for another post, another day.


Big Brother said...

I never even tried it,the smell of it has always turned me off. What you don't start, you don't have to kick later on... that goes for nicotine, alcohol and gambling... I guess I'm just genetically non-addictive...;o)

Teresa Lynne said...

That was an amazing picture. Just to see the burning of the cigarette and that going into people's lungs. The picture alone would make me quit if I smoked.

By the way, you write very well!

OHN said...

Ahhhh, a chocolate receptor...that would explain a lot ;)

alan said...

"Addictions 'r Us"!

I had the nicotine gene, but not the alcohol gene. My other addictions leaned towards things that were "cool" 35 years ago but less so now...the nicotine came first and left last about 16 years ago.

I still have that chocolate one, the butter one, the latte one...then there's sex!

People wonder why I don't dare go to one of the casinos or the dog track...I'm afraid I might like it!


Thank you for your kind words when you came by, speaking of genetics!


Wanda's Wings said...

Yes Chocolate receptor. Mine is over active.

Carie said...

My mom, dad, brother, grandparents, cousins...they all smoke, I never even tried it, never wanted to live my life around a smoke...I was afraid if I ever tried it that I would be like them...addicted.

My dad and his dad are/were both alcholics, I watched my dad do things that were so out there when he was drunk, saw him be violent, silly and just so mean, I never wanted to be like him, so I have never taken a drink, figured if I never started I would never have to stop...

I think the addiction gene is huge in my family, I have always distanced myself from all of it, never wanting to live my life they way they I have to hope my daughter is more influenced by me than she is by them...

Health Psych said...

Ha, Debs, I was going to make a comment about a chocolate receptor gene but you'd already been there!

I smoked briefly, a few months. During a very stressful time, I fooled myself into thinking it was helpful. Lucky for me, I could kick it without a problem.

S'onnie said...

I smoked for many years but was lucky enough to be able to quit easily last time. but that was my third attempt. I always find genetics interesting because my twin sister never smoked but we both had our first (and for her, her only) cigerette together

Avrum Nadigel said...

In the 70's, my parents would smoke in the car, windows rolled up, while my brother and I choked on 2nd hand smoke.

The result?

I never took a puff of a cigarette, joint, nadda.

My brother was addicted to cigarettes for years.

Winrob said...

Very interesting info about the nicotine receptor gene.
I gave up smoking 22 years ago and every once in a while I still enjoy the smell of someone else's NEWLY lit cigarette.The funny/good thing is I hate the smell of a smoker's house or car. I would never go back to my 7 year habit (before I had my kids) because of the stale smell of smoke.

Deb said...

Dear BB,
Something to be said about NOT trying things once. It can lead a person down a very tough road.

Dear Teresa,
I like this research because it informs us how hard it can be for some to quit certain addictions. It's not about being lazy or not serious, but more a neurobiology that doesn't allow it to happen.

Dear OHN,
I know what you mean. I have a dark and milk chocolate receptor gene.

Dear Alan,
So good that you could ease yourself away from cigarettes. It is such a tough addiction.

Dear Wanda,
LOL. Me too.

Dear Carie,
Good for you to know about your family history so you can make informed decisionsa about things.

Dear HP,
I am always amazed at how some can stop an addiction with little or moderate effort, while others languish in the agony of it. Genetics helps to explain why it is easy for some and harder for others. And enables professioanls and laypeople to have more empathy and understanding for those who can't tame the beast.

Dear S'Onnie,
IS she an identical or fraternal twin?

Dear Avrum,
Interesting, indeed.

Dear Winrob,
You are one of the lucky ones who could stop and not go back.

Avrum Nadigel said...

Dr, Deb,

In a few weeks, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health - - will release a podcast (produced by yours truly), featuring Dr. Peter Selby and students from an alternative high school discussing/debating issues related to smoking, smoking cessation programs, etc. I'll send you a link when the podcast goes "live".

Mel Avila Alarilla said...

Yes, cigarette smoking is the offshoot of nicotine addiction, one that gives the smoker a natural high feeling. Addiction to chocolates is another thing, he, he, he, *lol* I heard that black chocolate is good for the heart and acts as a natural approdisiac to some. Thanks for the post. God bless.

spynster57 said...

Oh gosh, now I feel bad about a post I wrote called "Butt Ugly"! Maybe my siblings got the nicotine gene and I didn't. 4 smoke, 2 don't. I'm one of the lucky ones!

Anonymous said...

You know it makes sense my dad smoked two packs a day for ten years before I was born then stopped cold turkey. During my rebellious years I picked up smoking like I had been doing it for years, I have since stopped, but you know I can blame it on father...kidding.

Tracy said...

It really is amazing how certain addictions can run through a family. I myself can not smoke, i had a similar reaction as you did, but my twin does smoke, and she loved it and became addicted to it. My Mother smoked, and a lot of our family does. I am just very glad i got so sick!

STAG said...

Chocolate. Yuck.

Cigarettes. Yuck.

Beer. Yuck.

American coffee. Yuck.

gotta be addicted to get past the taste of the stuff. (Which I was for nearly 20 years lest you think I am being smug.)

Please note the "link up" between items in the above list. This link up is the reason why quitting is nearly impossible. The whipsaw gets you coming AND going. Also it helps to follow the money.

Oh, and this chocolate thing...its not the chocolate, its the sugar. See how much chocolate or coffee you will eat without sugar.

Expresso coffee, Tuscan cheese and vinegars, Guiness beer, Sorento Lemonade....heaven on earth.

jenji said...

Yeah, smoking has always turned me off. Still does. But yes, it's a habit and it's hard to battle your receptors, as they usual don't play nice. The reward system of our brain is a powerful and mysterious force.

I remember back in 1970 it wasn't at all unusual to ride in a car in the middle of winter with all the windows up of course, as it was usually temps in the teens; meanwhile, my aunt and uncle puffed away on those nicotine sticks. It didn't even occur to them that they might be killing everyone in the car at the time, even as they hacked up their own lungs. Yuck.

I just wanted to jam my head out the window like a dog to get a fresh breath of air.

So very glam.


jenji said...


I totally have the Oreo gene.


Avrum Nadigel said...

It didn't even occur to them that they might be killing everyone in the car at the time, even as they hacked up their own lungs. Yuck.

Ah I remember those days...

Actually, the 1st 5 secs of a freshly lit cig was nice. After that it was all bad, bad, bad.

Casdok said...

I think i must have a cheese receptor!

Raine said...

so can you remove the gene?

Ian Lidster said...

Currently going through the rigors of getting off the weed, I know only too well about the hideous addictive properties of nicotine.
They say only heroin is harder to quit, and aloohol is easy to give up compared with tobacco.
You are so blessed that you hated it from the onset.

therapydoc said...

This looks strangely like a menorah.

kath said...

hey, I have the coffee receptor gene too! I was never able to smoke either....bleh

Thank you for the nice comment on my daughters wedding pics. :)
She is the brightest light in my life.

~Deb said...

I started smoking at the age of 12 and quit when I was 23 yrs old. My grandfather died of emphysema at the age of 65 and now my father has it. Luckily, me and my two other “smoking” sisters have quit years ago but smoked for a long time. I do miss the ‘buzz’ of the cigarette, especially after my first cocktail or during coffee. It was relaxing to me and pacified me because I’m a very nervous person to begin with. A lot of people are addicted to the oral fixation of it all – which is understandable and others are truly addicted to the nicotine. They say that the addiction of nicotine is as strong as heroin to some.

Deb said...

Hope you are feeling well these days.

Yes, do consider yourself lucky that you didn't have a "sticky" gene.

Genetics can show how behavior can truly be influenced.

Just wondering, is your twin identical or fraternal. I'm thinking that you are fraternal, not sharing the same identical genes.

Appreciate your thoughts on this and no I didn't think you were smug. And you are right, I think it IS the sugar I dislike the taste of unsweetened chocolate!

Oreo gene, so funny!

Me too! Love cheese.

Hmmm, now there's a thought!

Being an addiction specialist, you know how these things go. But having research help explain why it's harder for some does alot to educate others.

Yeah, I guess it does...

Your daughter looked SO lovely and so happy - as did you.

~deb ,
Emphsyema, so scary. So glad you were able to tame the nicotine beast. Addictions are VERY tough indeed.

SeaSpray said...

Is there a Helman's mayonnaise receptor? ;)

I had the same experience you did except I was 15 and vomited.

My husband wants to quit.

And he doesn't want to.

I understand and feel bad for him.

He bought Chantix because we have heard people are successful in quitting with it.

However, I have one friend who is an upbeat, go getter type who became so depressed while on it her husband said she HAD to get off it.

Another woman quit on Chantix after over 50 years of smoking but she said always nauseated and it gives BIZARRE nightmares. That concerns me because my husband is a Vietnam vet and I hate the thought of the med dredging that up.

Do you have any opinions or knowledge about Chantix?

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