The Path To Nicotine Addiction Recovery.

In the last tutorial we explored how nicotine dramatically alters the brain’s physiology and causes addiction. The end result paints a pretty depressing picture.

Fortunately, there is an absolute certainty that smokers can regain the health of their brain. The very same physiological processes that allow smokers to become addicted also allow smokers to successfully recover. What’s more, these processes can be invoked and practiced by the user through progressive treatments.

The first of these processes is down-regulation, the reverse effect of up-regulation.

Down Regulation.

While up-regulation increases the number of nicotine receptors in the brain, down-regulation decreases it. This means the chemical dependency  to nicotine weakens as it receives less of it. Down-regulation begins as soon as you stop smoking, or even cut down the number of cigarettes you consume.

The process is also fundamental to Nicotine Replacement Therapy, which progressively weakens the chemical dependency over time.

Up and Down Regulation

Once the chemical dependency to nicotine is broken, the addict can begin to invoke the second and most influential process to long term healing, brain plasticity.

Brain Plasticity.

For a longtime, it was accepted by the scientific community the brain ceased development at a certain point in an individuals childhood or youth. It was also believed we had a fixed number of brain cells.

Developments in neuroscience over the last thirty years has debunked this idea and proven the human brain, is in fact, capable of neural development throughout adulthood. This neural development is referred to as a brain’s “plasticity.”

In the last tutorial, we explored how addiction to nicotine results in the “hijacking” of neural networks by neurons and neural pathways connected to the act of smoking and nicotine abuse. This process is due to the brains plasticity. Put simply, plasticity is the ability of the brain to create neurons, neural networks and neural pathways. It is most commonly observed in the area of the brain that involves memory.

I also mentioned in the last tutorial, the neural pathways related to smoking strengthen with the constant behavior of smoking cigarettes. Thankfully, these same pathways weaken when not in use.

Over time, the neurons physically metabolize (break down) and allow new neurons and neural pathways to develop. Unlike down regulation and chemical dependency, this process takes a lot longer to play out and requires a commitment to long term treatment. (There are billions of neurons in your brain.)

If a smoker can commit to the healing process, the individual will stop desiring cigarettes and return to a state of normality.

Plasticity of the Brain Allows Long Term Addiction Recovery.


To see plasticity in action, be sure to check out the below you tube clip!



So there we are! Hopefully you have a clearer understanding of nicotine addiction and can now believe with confidence, if you quit smoking and seek treatment for your disease, a time will come that YOU DO NOT MISS cigarettes!

Previous Tutorial.

The Short and Long Term Effects of Nicotine on the Brain.

Additional Links


Brain Plasticity.



  1. Mr Dominic Oremus says:

    The most informative site i have ever come across,i am now into my second full week of giving up the cigs,after 30 years of 15 a day, reading virtually everything on your your site i have never felt so confident,my first attempt at giving up(pray my last).from how the brain works etc,the knowledge i have gained makes it so much easier for me.i can only heap praise on you all,and all ex smokers,without you all i would have not taken this journey of a new beginning.Thanks.

  2. That is truly satisfying to read Dominic. Thank you so much for the feedback!

    Good luck on your new journey, millions of ex smokers will be barracking for you right now 🙂

  3. I came across your site when looking for information about fatigue and poor concentration, I am on my 5th day of stopping a 39 year old 20 a day habit and I feel dreadful.
    It is fantastic to be able to access the information you have on here, I keep popping back and reading it not only to reassure myself that I am not going mad but also to support my thought process that I can get through this and that to give into the cravings will undo any progress made so far.
    Thank You for a great site :0)

  4. I am better off for the effort you have put into this site. well done mate 🙂

  5. Rosie.Fearn says:

    One whole month since I quit – after 40 years of more than a pack a day. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Allen Carr, but your site is taking me further down the road of understanding, and giving me reasurrance that it will get easier and easier as my brain heals the wounds I’ve been inflicting on it for so long. Thank you so much!

  6. Thank you for your website i now have a clear understanding
    of this habit and how it works. I wish i came across your site sooner. This party is over
    Thank you.

  7. Hi there, I’m coming to the end of a paltry day 3 smoke free. These 3 days feel like a lot longer and I feel terrible! Searching on the net in order to find some help from somewhere to help me understand what’s going on in my head and body and inspire me to keep going ….. This is attempt number 4 for me – I had my first smoke at 12, was a “social smoker” for about 20 years before hooking in and becoming a fully fledged smoker. I hate being a smoker and I don’t want to be one anymore. I’m finding it incredibly difficult due to the typical side effects when quitting together with my husband and a nephew (living with us short term) are both smokers! I pray these horrible feelings have lessened just a little bit tomorrow …. Enough of my grizzling – great website, really helpful information and insights. Very much appreciated and helped me get through another 1/2 hour smoke free!

  8. I am smoke free for oh, at least 6 months now and I would love a cigarette right now. With the weigh I have gained (I’m up a size), it’s tempting. My weight is up, energy and motivation is down and I’m not sure which is worse. I’m not completely broken down yet. I’m still hanging on. I have quit for as long as 6 years at a time, and that first cigarette after a “quit” is like meeting up with an old friend. I hate to admit that, but it’s the truth. I was born to a heavy smoker who smoked during pregnancy and in the home while I was growing up. I started at 11! I quit at 17, started again at 19, quit, started, quit….my latest quit was at 46.

    Any suggestions or ideas?

    • Hi Paige, grats on 6 months.

      Yeah. those walls of craving do get pretty tiring. 6 months is a bit of a risky period because of it. Stay strong though, because the challenging walls stopped for me around 10 months from memory.

  9. I am currently smoke free for 4 months now, i’ve smoked since I was 14 and got the wake up call in February when I had a TIA (mini stroke). Listening to all the nurses and doctors at the hospital telling me my blood pressure would improve and my chances for a second stroke or heart attack would decrease if I would just quit smoking!!! Well I wasn’t what you would call ready to quit but I figured since I survived the mini stroke with no ill effects that this was God’s way of telling me this is your second chance. I am 52 and heart disease runs in my fathers family, I lost my father at age 58 and my brother at age 48. I wanted to be around for my children and grandchildren. The urges are very frustrating but I just keep thinking about what the outcome would be if I continued smoking. Just need to stay strong.

  10. It has been 37 days since my last cigarette. I went for hypnosis and it is definitely working, BUT I am an emotional wreck the last few days. Crying jags and pissed off. I don’t want a cigarette at this point but I am miserable. help please. I want this to work. I am 63 and smoked for 25 years. I work at a retirement community and my motivation is: I don’t want to be on an oxygen tank ever!!!!!! I just want to feel normal.

  11. I gave up smoking when I went into treatment for my alcohol dependence. No problem, no withdrawals, altho perhaps my quitting drinking also contributed to that. I also started exercising every day. Then, when I got out after 30 days I returned to the cigs and my old habits. I’ve taken a two week vacation to get out of my negative living surroundings and today, I’ve put them down for good today — 30 days after I left treatment. Wish me well…I hate those smelly disgusting things!!!

  12. Hi everyone!!

    My name is Lisa & for 6wks I have been using NRT in the form of patches!! I started out on 21mg for 7 days then onto 14mg for 1wk then dropped to 7mg for 1wk then cut the 7mg patch in half & went down to 3.5mg where I stayed for 3wks!! I then realised that maybe my cravings were largely due to still having small amounts of nicotine per day so I ripped the patch off & I am 36hrs down the line!!

    The NRT has helped me to learn how to not smoke!! I have gained weight around 7kgs but not duly to overeating & frankly that is the least of my worries right now!! I feel truly like killing someone & my moodswings are quite volatile for now but I am hoping that it will quickly pass!!

    Thanks for your website it has helped me a lot to understand how the demon nicotine works!! I gave up alcohol 3yrs ago & it was nowhere near as bad as this!!

    Lisa x

  13. I am a smoker . Smoke around 10 a day . There are some days where the no of cigs go high and sometyms even low . I had started at 17. Now im 21. Had stopped in between for 8 months . I want to compeletely stop now . Tried many ways . Will power never worked . Plz suggest me some ways where i can stop completely as i find it a waste of time and money and life . But due to my surrounding at work place and with friends im unable to quit . Really need some advice . Please help me .

  14. I am on my 54th day of being smoke free. The days are getting better. I am so fortunate to find this website. Knowledge is power! Good luck to all!

  15. Julie Rene' says:

    Thanks so much for your website, Cameron! I just found it yesterday, and am so grateful! I am now on Day 9 of my cold-turkey quit. I tried the gum for a day or two, but it made me sick. So, in my head, I have determined that this is cold-turkey. 🙂
    I was having a tough time yesterday, as I was home alone all day. Then I read about how my brain is repairing itself every time I resist a craving. I woke up today with a renewed vigor in my quest to be nicotine-free! Now I am thinking, “bring it on!” Ha Ha I actually think my cravings are a little afraid of me today…as are the cat and the dog. 🙂 Anyway, Thanks for your site! I will keep you updated on my progress.

  16. Colleen Bohn says:

    Thanks so much for this great site, I am on day 3 of quitting cold turkey, and I am a crying, feeling horrible all over mess..I usually give up on this day, but I am not going to this time, I really want to be done with this addiction…I will keep reading and keep resisting the urges and cravings

  17. Coincidence Colleen, I quit (cold turkey) on the 4th July, and am still on course – not had a cig (18 days). I’ll win! I know I’ll win because of this site and the strength I have gotten from it. There’ll be testing times to come I’m sure, socialising, and times of stress, but just knowing why I’ll be tested is all I need to pass the test.
    Good Luck CB.

    • Just to update and inform that I am still winning, have already won to my mind, though of course there are tests to overcome.
      One test is the after exercise urge to light-up. I hadn’t expected that one.

  18. Day 4, Cold Chicken, 98 hours of natural dopamines!!! I,m 56 tried stopping for 5+ years, This site has opened my eyes not my receptors, Thanks Cameron.

  19. Bonnie Blackie says:

    I stopped four days ago after 20 years of 20 a day. I am using 2mg lozenges together with E Cigarette 18mg cartomizers. So far so good, I don’t miss cigarettes at all. I plan to stop the lozenges at the end of this week. Two questions though. One, will I start to heal even though I am using NRT, and, how do I reduce E cigarette usage before quitting entirely? I do not want to relapse! Great site by the way, thank you for all your hard work!

  20. I’ve stopped smoking for nearly 3 weeks but today I feel awful don’t want a ciggerate but don’t feel good hope it’s one of those days the cravings I can deal with but feeling not well is far worse and xmas is coming????

  21. Many websites I’ve come across shame smokers and try to scare them into quitting. However, this website acknowledges the difficulty of quitting and provides helpful, explanatory information to assist in the process. Much appreciated.

  22. I must commend the author of this article on the structure of addiction and how it operates in the human brain. It truly is quite amazing and only somebody who has experienced addiction in themselves or others could really grasp the ideology of how our neurones get hijacked. It is a disease when you fully understand it and I have nothing but respect for anyone who rewires their brains after going through addiction. To get to a stage where one can control what has been hijacked by the drug addiction is the tricky bit in my opinion and this is where the men are split from the boys. Good luck people and get your minds back.

  23. Quite tired so I’ll keep this short

    After two and a half week, I’ve been feeling that my life is somehow very dull. Feels like I can’t get deep satisfaction from anything. In some level, I recognized that it was the absence of nicotine that made me feel this way. But I didn’t really understand the chemistry and processes inside my head until I read articles you’ve written. So first of all, know that yours writings still help us quitters really much, even after years! And secondly, thank you for taking the time to teach us all these things. I and apparently many else appreciate it a lot 🙂

  24. I am 68 and have smoked since I was around 14. I have been quit for 11 weeks. Still feeling foggy and I haven’t felt like myself since this started. Someone should be doing some research on this because it is not simply a 3 or 4 day thing.

  25. Hats off for the developer who got idea to design such an informative plateform for those who are victim of this bad and chronic addition Smoking.
    I am a smoker and made my mind to quit it right now. i threw pack outside the door and started living a healthy social life.
    thankyou for the entire team it is very informative for me and gave alot that directed me to recover.

    Thanks again

    Best Regard
    Muhammad Saeed Talib
    Software Engineer

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