In this medical video learn about a new drug that increases the brain chemical dopamine, which may help smokers quit.
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Jennifer Matthews: Terry Boatright has a problem -- two pack a week problem. Terry Boatright: I wish I wasn't smoking at all. Jennifer Matthews: Jesse Baginski has an even bigger problem. He smokes a pack and a half a day. His lungs have already suffered serious damage. Jesse Baginski: I've tried the nicotine gum, a couple of different kinds of patches, I even tried hypnosis once, he says. Jennifer Matthews: Researchers at the VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center say they now better understand people like Boatright and Baginski's need to smoke. Smoking releases chemicals in some of the pleasure-producing parts of the brain. Dr. Nicholas Caskey: Drugs like nicotine, the primary active ingredient of cigarette smoke, cocaine, and amphetamines, cause an increase in dopamine in those regions when those drugs are administered. Jennifer Matthews: 20 smokers took a dopamine-increasing drug called Bromocriptine and then studied their smoking over a five-hour period. The smoking slowed considerably. A drug that impedes dopamine had the opposite effect. Dr. Nicholas Caskey: It may be possible in the future to develop a drug treatment for smoking that works directly on the brain chemical dopamine to help smokers quit smoking. Jennifer Matthews: That's good news for the 47 million smokers in America like Terry and Jesse. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.