Nicotine Addiction

Smoking addiction is an uncontrollable dependence on the highly addictive nicotine stimulant present in tobacco products. Nicotine alters the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that causes smokers to experience pleasurable changes to mood and concentration. When a smoker stops smoking they crave the nicotine effects and can suffer withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression and irritable.

How Nicotine Works

Nicotine causes chemical and biological changes in the brain. Although it is less dramatic than heroin or cocaine, the strength of the addiction is just as powerful. It is a “reinforcing” drug, which means that users desire the drug regardless of the damaging effects.The human body builds a tolerance to nicotine and the effect of the drug is reduced over time. As a result, regular smokers can inhale greater amounts of smoke and toxins without showing immediate effects (ie. coughing, nausea).Nicotine is considered addictive because it alters brain functioning and because people use it compulsively. Addiction to nicotine is not immediate – it may take weeks or months to develop.

Nicotine in the body

Nicotine enters the brain within 10 seconds after inhaling cigarette smoke.This causes several physiological reactions:
Acute increase in heart rate and blood pressure,Constriction of blood vessels causing a temperature drop in the hands and feet,Brain waves are altered and muscles relax.Nicotine is extremely poisonous if consumed in large amounts. For this reason, new smokers might experience coughing, dizziness and a dry, irritated throat. Other effects may include nausea, weakness, abdominal cramps, headache, coughing or gagging. These symptoms abate as the user develops a tolerance to nicotine.

Withdrawel Symptoms

Nicotine addiction is a physical dependency. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and many smokers might not be able to quit on their first attempt because of these symptoms, and a lack of preparation to cope with withdrawal.
The most severe withdrawal symptoms occur within the first week although the craving for cigarettes can persist for months even years. The desire to smoke can be especially strong when a person is under stress although others crave cigarettes while socializing or when bored. The typical withdrawal symptoms are:
o headaches
o anxiety and irritability
o difficulty concentrating and sleeping
o hunger
o decreased heart rate and blood pressure
o craving for nicotine
Other side effects such as fatigue and coughing are indications that the body is in a state of repair and is cleaning out the poisons associated with smoking.
Your body uses food more slowly when you first stop smoking. You may eat more when you quit too, so there is a good chance you will gain weight. And, while the average weight gain is 5 pounds, not everyone gains weight when they quit smoking.


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