It is known that prolonged nicotine use alters the brain's connectivity. Nicotine exerts its neurophysiologic action principally through the brain’s reward center.2 Neuroadaptation develops with repeated exposure to nicotine, resulting in tolerance to many of the effects of nicotine.3
Recovery involves a major change in thoughts and feelings, and such changes require ongoing neural development or neuroplasticity. 4 So quitting a long term addiction will involve rewiring in the brain. Which in turn is dependent on neural plasticity.
Thus, age-related dysregulation of calcium signaling may underlie deficits in neural plasticity, and may ultimately be responsible for cognitive decline that occurs in the healthy, non-demented aging population. 5
To summarize: quitting a long term addiction requires brain plasticity, which in turn is in deficit in older populations.
So are the elderly neurologically just as capable of overcoming addictions as the young?