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Nicotine Addiction Facts

Leena Palande Apr 10, 2019
How does nicotine work? Why is it so addictive? Nicotine addiction facts presented here can help you find answers to these questions. Read on to know the addiction signs and shocking statistics.
Nicotine inhaled from smoking influences your brain in such a way that nicotine addiction is harder to beat than most people realize. Nicotine is so powerful that eventually, it changes the structure and function of brain.
It acts like a stimulant and a relaxant as well. Influence of nicotine on the brain results in physical and mood-altering effects. The effects are pleasing but transient, and they force you to use tobacco again and again.
The physical vulnerability of your body to the chemical nicotine is defined as nicotine addiction. This chemical is yielded by various tobacco products. It is so influential that your body develops 'nicotine dependence'. Most tobacco products contain nicotine.
Nicotine, an alkaloid, is found in the plants belonging to the family Solanaceae. An average cigarette releases about 1 mg of absorbed nicotine which acts as a stimulant and is responsible for the dependence-forming properties of tobacco smoking. Some have a habit of chewing or sniffing tobacco.
Now, the question is how will you know whether someone is nicotine addict? If you notice the further mentioned signs of addiction, then you should help the person to recover from it.

Nicotine Addiction Signs

  • The person is unable to stop smoking/chewing or sniffing tobacco.
  • The person keeps on smoking despite health complications.
  • The person stops participating in social or recreational activities that don't allow him/her to smoke.
  • If he/she tries to stop smoking, he/she experiences strong nicotine withdrawal symptoms which include craving for tobacco, anxiety, diarrhea, irritability, restlessness, headache, drowsiness, stomach problems, constipation, difficulty in concentrating, etc. Thus, it eventually affects your performance.
The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal subside usually in less than a week. It is better to suffer from withdrawal symptoms than to suffer from life-threatening side effects of nicotine.

Facts

Nicotine addiction facts inform us that each puff of a cigarette transmits nicotine to the brain within 10 seconds and instantly, you feel more alert and calm. You feel better, so you have another puff. And another. Nicotine combines with various neurotransmitters in brain, for example, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, vasopressin, acetylcholine, etc.
Soon nicotine succeeds in changing the chemical structure of the brain and the brain becomes hooked onto nicotine to make the effects last. Adverse effects of smoking are not noticed immediately, but after a long period.
Nicotine is responsible for the release of dopamine into brain, which offers you feeling of pleasure. But over time, as your brain gets used to nicotine, it needs more nicotine to reach the same level of relaxation and pleasure.
Moreover, if you stop providing nicotine to the brain which it wants, you experience desperate cravings that are hard to overcome with willpower alone. These strong cravings during the phase of nicotine withdrawal are accompanied by other nicotine overdose symptoms. You think you want a cigarette when, actually, your brain wants nicotine.
Nicotine is thousand times more potent than alcohol and 5-10 times more powerful than cocaine or morphine. It is one of the most addictive of all drugs. One may become an addict after enjoying only one pack of cigarettes or after smoking just 5-6 cigarettes. It acts as a stimulant and it plays the role of a tranquilizer too.
It inhibits the release of insulin from pancreas which results in high blood sugar leading to loss of appetite. Nicotine is responsible for release of adrenaline, the 'fight or flight' hormone that leads to rapid, shallow breathing and racing heartbeats. Adrenaline plays an important role in instructing the body to dump excess glucose into the bloodstream.
At this stage, it becomes difficult to quit smoking, even though the person wants to. This type of addiction needs to be treated with nicotine replacement therapy (proper use of nicotine supplements that are available in the form of gum, nasal sprays, inhalers and skin patch) and non-nicotine / smoking cessation medication.
Use of nicotine gum is an effective method to quit smoking, but one should know about the side effects of the gum, before use. Studies show that teenagers between the age 12 and 13 years get addicted to nicotine within about a year as they try smoking just to enjoy the thrill.
Excessive intake of nicotine can affect several parts of your body and can lead to nicotine side effects such as:
  • Dry skin
  • Oral cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Emphysema
  • Larynx cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Increased risk of heart diseases
  • Throat cancer
  • Infertility
  • Stroke
  • Complications in pregnancy
  • Complications in newborn's health
  • Dull senses

Statistics

  • Every year, cigarette addiction kills more Americans than World War II and the Vietnam War combined. Tobacco related illnesses kill about 500,000 US citizens, every year. (According to the Centers for Disease Control.)
  • There are over 4,000 toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke. (According to the World Health Organization).
  • Tobacco is the single, most preventable cause of death in the U.S. (Say the reports of the Centers for Disease Control). Do you know that about 70 chemicals found in tobacco can cause cancer? (The American Cancer Society).
  • Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control for 2017 tell us nearly 40 million US adults, currently smoke cigarettes.
  • In 2015, more than 55.4% of adult smokers and 45.5% of high school student smokers made a strong effort to quit smoking for more than a day to 12 months.
We hope that the aforementioned facts about nicotine will help at least some of you to quit smoking.
First, the smoker should admit the fact that he is addicted to nicotine, then only he/she can quit smoking. Symptoms of nicotine addiction and withdrawal go away gradually. With strong determination only, you can attain freedom from nicotine, because the process is slow.