UF Psychiatrists Use Antidepressants To Treat Smoking Addiction

attachment to smoking, who are getting antidepressant effects from smoking. They love smoking; it's a source of pleasure.

"The idea that you can treat all smokers with a nicotine patch or gum is not realistic," he adds. "It's like saying you've discovered the cure for all alcoholism is alcohol. You wouldn't propose to most alcoholics who were drinking vodka that they should switch to beer. So the idea behind nicotine replacement and detoxification may be somewhat flawed."

Smoking cigarettes is tied to more than 400,000 deaths in the United States each year from cancer, stroke and cardiovascular disease, according to the American Lung Association.

UF physicians, practicing in the newly formed Smoking Cessation Clinic within the Psychiatric Specialty Clinics at Shands hospital at UF, tackle the problem on both fronts - using nicotine replacement therapy to treat acute withdrawal symptoms and antidepressants to combat the longer-lasting brain changes.

Smoking releases a cascade of brain chemicals associated with survival-enhancing behaviors such as eating and sex. UF physicians have studied the effects of two new medications for smoking: buproprion and naltrexone. Both act on the area of the brain that rewards survival-enhancing behaviors. UF physicians also offer patients strategies for attaining and maintaining abstinence from tobacco.

"Of course, smoking cigarettes is not survival enhancing, but the brain doesn't know that," Eaton said.

"We in the addiction field have known that smoking is a drug addiction as serious or devastating in the long run as heroin or cocaine," he added. "It is perhaps even more malicious because the negative effects are not as quickly apparent, so it's easier for everyone involved to be in denial about the seriousness of the problem."

Just ask Eaton: He smoked a pack a day for 20 years and tried dozens of time to quit. When the FDA approved the drug, he decide

Contact: Melanie Fridl Roass
University of Florida

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