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Nicotine Addiction: Causes, Effects, & Treatments

Nicotine Addiction kills more than 480,000 deaths annually. One in every 5 people dies due to smoking. Even though the percentage has decreased, the population has also drastically increased. Thus, eventually, it has led to a great increase in numbers.

In the United States, overall mortality is almost three times greater for smokers than it is for non-smokers of the same age and background.

Let us understand the causes of Nicotine Addiction, its ill effects on your body, and practical treatments that can help you easily quit smoking.

What is Nicotine Addiction (Smoking Addiction)?

The substance in tobacco products called nicotine is what causes addiction. When you smoke tobacco, nicotine enters your body fast and travels straight to your brain. Nicotine stimulates brain regions responsible for happiness and satisfaction. The nicotine you are putting into your body, whether you smoke, vape, or dip, is highly addicting and might be bad for your growing brain.

The effects of nicotine addiction might vary from person to person. You can become hooked on tobacco even if you just use it occasionally, and quitting can be challenging.

Cravings or feeling like you need to smoke are some indications that you may be addicted to nicotine. You could even make an extra effort to obtain tobacco. Feeling worried or agitated is another symptom of wanting to consume tobacco but being unable to do so.

If you are hooked on nicotine, quitting cigarettes may cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms. 

Some typical withdrawal symptoms include craving cigarettes, feeling down or angry, or having difficulties falling asleep. The first week after quitting, when these symptoms are typically at their peak, is merely a passing phase.

Nicotine addiction is more than simply a bad habit. It’s a persistent medical problem that has to be treated, much like an addiction to alcohol or drugs. 

The use of tobacco can result in tobacco dependency, which is defined by a pattern of tobacco use and a physiological reliance brought on by nicotine addiction.

The substance that makes cigarettes and other tobacco products addictive is nicotine. Over time, a person who uses tobacco products frequently develops a physical and psychological dependence on them.

How Does Our Body Becomes Dependent on Nicotine (Smoking)?

Around 10 milligrams of nicotine are included in an average American cigarette.

Tar particles are created when tobacco is burnt and breathed into the lungs.

Nicotine enters the alveoli of the lungs on tar droplets, passes through the respiratory epithelial cells to be absorbed, then enters the pulmonary venous circulation before entering the systemic artery circulation.

One cigarette eventually contains around one mg of nicotine. Five milligrams of nicotine per day is thought to be the magic number that triggers a tobacco product addiction.

Nicotine Dependency Stages

Absorption

Nicotine is absorbed and released into the bloodstream when smokeless tobacco is inserted in the mouth or breathed via the nose.

Based on a variety of variables, such as the product’s moisture and pH levels, its manufacturing process, and storage procedures, the nicotine content in smokeless tobacco products varies significantly by brand and by region.

Nicotine moves toward the brain through arterial circulation after entering the bloodstream. The blood-brain barrier is easily crossed, allowing the nicotine to reach the brain.

Nicotine takes 10 to 20 seconds to enter the brain when inhaled. In contrast, the rate of nicotine absorption and the duration of nicotine levels are more gradual with oral nicotine products like smokeless tobacco.

The liver converts the majority of the nicotine in the blood to cotinine and other inert substances, which are then eliminated by the kidneys.

Additionally, nicotine builds up in the amniotic fluid and breast milk, and it may be found in the blood and urine of nursing infants whose moms smoke.

Binding To Brain Receptors

Nicotine has a half-life of around two hours. Nicotine binds to receptors in the brain as well as other bodily systems such as the peripheral nervous system, cardiovascular system, and gastrointestinal system.

It binds to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, ligand-gated ion channel receptors in the brain.

Nicotine binds to these receptors, opening the channel for sodium and calcium to enter the neurons. This triggers events inside the neurons and enables the release of different neurotransmitters into the brain.

Dopamine, one of these neurotransmitters, activates the dopamine reward system, which results in the sensation of pleasure and supports tobacco addiction.

Through this route, nicotine attaches to neurons in the ventral tegmental region of the brain, releasing dopamine into the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex.

Dopamine reduces hunger while simultaneously being responsible for the pleasure response. Smoking cessation might result in both physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms.

Triggering the Symptom

The majority of symptoms in Nicotine Addiction start appearing within the first one to two days, reach their height within the first week, and then go away between two to four weeks. Smoking or using smokeless tobacco products can relieve these symptoms, which is a key factor in why people who are trying to quit relapse.

Cravings, an increase in hunger, weight gain, irritability, anxiety, trouble focusing, a gloomy mood, and sleeplessness are just a few signs.

The daily behavioral patterns that a person associates with consuming tobacco further support addiction.

The habit of smoking when you first wake up in the morning, eating, finishing a meal, drinking coffee or other beverages, and watching television are just a few examples of behavioral patterns.

These habits might make quitting difficult for a user and increase their cravings for cigarettes.

Dependence

A daily smoker’s blood nicotine content spikes with their first cigarette of the day to a level that alerts the brain to pleasure.

When a smoker finishes their cigarette, the amount of nicotine in their blood starts to decrease until they smoke their next cigarette.

When the blood nicotine level drops below a certain threshold, the smoker often smokes their next cigarette to avoid withdrawal symptoms, which include cravings.

A regular smoker’s need for nicotine to maintain their typical level of enjoyment rises as the day goes on, therefore more nicotine is needed to produce the same benefits.

Tolerance is the term for this phenomenon. The body becomes desensitized to nicotine’s effects when smoking is stopped abruptly overnight. 

To get the desired benefits from smoking, the majority of smokers who are addicted to cigarettes typically ingest 10 to 40 milligrams of nicotine daily.

These outcomes include preserving pleasure and arousal, regulating mood during stressful and anxious situations, and avoiding withdrawal symptoms.

In conclusion, tobacco smoking involves both behavioral tendencies and physiological addiction to nicotine. Both must be addressed when a patient is being treated for tobacco dependency.

It’s critical to comprehend how internal and environmental variables combine to influence tobacco usage.

Causes of Nicotine Addiction

Causes of Nicotine Addiction

People are driven to smoke cigarettes for a variety of reasons. Let’s look at five main causes that intrigue Nicotine Addiction.

Peer Pressure

Anyone who has gone through the teenage years will be acutely aware of the social and psychological toll that trying to fit in or be considered “cool” at school can have on an adolescent. 

The American Cancer Society estimates that before the age of 18, at least 90% of people become adult smokers. 

Furthermore, your probability of developing a nicotine addiction increases the younger you start smoking. This is why, despite their original intentions to stop smoking, many continue to smoke into their older years. 

No matter how many times you warn teenagers about the dangers of smoking, many of them will still give it a try, especially in light of how beautiful smoking is made to appear in advertisements that are displayed on all of our screens.

According to how smoking is portrayed in the media, smoking helps you appear hipper, friendlier, or even more appealing to a possible mate. 

The issue is that, at least for the majority of them, the more frequently they smoke, the more hooked they become, which causes them to smoke for an extended period.

However, peer pressure is not simply a problem for teens. People could also wish to smoke to blend in at work because people who smoke naturally form bonds around cigarettes.

Many attempt smoking when they want to add more meaning to their lives to develop a feeling of community.

Family Influence

For a youngster who is still developing, parent-child ties are essential. Therefore, compared to a kid raised by non-smokers, a youngster who grows up in a home where they often interact with a smoking parent has a twofold increased risk of beginning to smoke.

Parents who are careless with their children and do not forbid them from watching movies or other media that favorably represent smokers also expose their children to the effect of these media. 

Even if they do not smoke themselves, parents who model smoking as a socially acceptable activity may encourage their kids to try it.

This indicates that raising your children in a smoke-free atmosphere is not sufficient. Parents must be completely devoted to teaching and frequently speaking with a child about how smoking is unhealthy, uncomfortable, and, most importantly, harmful.

According to research, drug codependency can be genetic. The focus of the study is nicotine addiction, which is caused by the substance’s presence in tobacco products like cigarettes. 

It’s crucial to keep in mind, though, that research on addiction and genetics does not imply that an addiction-causing gene is necessarily handed down. It concerns a person’s susceptibility to developing a habit like smoking. 

Media Impact

Although smoking is unhealthy, many young people still believe it is cool. The media is a key factor in this, too. 

Every year, businesses in the tobacco and e-cigarette industries spend billions of dollars marketing their goods online, in periodicals, and in retail locations. Most advertisements portray smokers as prosperous, attractive, vibrant, and healthy. 

Additionally, there are numerous instances of smoking in movies, video games, and television shows. 

These pictures encourage smoking while seldom ever depicting its negative effects, such as breathing difficulties, cancer, problems with other conditions, or even death.

The media is a vital instrument and has a big part to play in how people see smokers. Around the world and throughout history, this has happened frequently. 

Research conducted in Norway found that the 1975 ban on tobacco advertising resulted in a long-term 9% decrease in the prevalence of smoking.

Additionally, a lot of movie characters smoke, which may lead young people to assume that smoking is attractive and fashionable.

Increasing the number of initiatives that inform people about smoking and convey how terrible it should be might aid in lowering the number of smokers in the future.

Unhealed Emotional Pain or Trauma

Addiction is not a choice that anybody willingly makes except for those who start for fun and then cling to it. 

It’s not a moral failure, an ethical lapse, a weakness of character, or a failure of will. It’s a response to our suffering.  

Mostly, addiction is our effort to artificially stimulate past trauma and emotional neglect from people, things, or experiences. 

Rather than being a disease or a human choice, it is an attempt to escape suffering temporarily. People attempt to cope with their emotional agony, but more importantly, their traumatic experiences hindered their ability to grow their cognition.

According to sources, 25–75% of victims of abuse or severe trauma go on to develop an addiction. 

Those who have survived accidents, illnesses, or natural calamities have rates of addiction that are 10–33% greater. 

A PTSD diagnosis increases the likelihood of developing alcohol abuse. Compared to people who have not experienced such abuse, male and female sexual abuse survivors have a greater prevalence of addiction.

Individuals with psychiatric diseases are nearly twice as likely to smoke than adults without such issues. Smokers who are depressed are more prone to relapse than smokers who are not sad. More nicotine dependence is common in people with drug use disorders.

Effects of Nicotine Addiction

Cigarettes aren’t good for us. We’ve known about the dangers of smoking for decades. 

But how exactly do cigarettes harm us?

Let’s look at what happens to our bodies and minds as we smoke. 

Physical Effects

Smoke exposes the body’s tissues to more than 5,000 different chemicals with each inhale.

Tar, a dark, resinous substance that coats the teeth and gums from the beginning, weakens tooth enamel, and eventually leads to decay. Smoke gradually damages the nerve fibers in the nose, impairing the ability to smell. 

Smoking raises the risk of infections and chronic medical conditions including bronchitis and emphysema within the lungs and airways. 

It harms the microscopic cilia hair-like structures responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the airways. 

Then it fills the alveoli, which are small air sacs that allow carbon dioxide and oxygen to be exchanged between the blood and lungs.

When carbon monoxide penetrates that membrane and enters the blood, it binds to hemoglobin and replaces oxygen. It circulates throughout the body through blood. Smoking can cause oxygen deprivation and shortness of breath because of this.

Nicotine causes the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters like endorphins to provide euphoric sensations. Blood arteries constrict and their fragile endothelium lining is harmed reducing the blood flow.

This thickens the blood vessel walls and makes blood platelets more sticky, which raises the risk of clots resulting in heart attacks and strokes.

Numerous chemicals included in cigarettes have the potential to cause harmful DNA alterations that lead to the development of cancer.

Additionally, substances like arsenic and nickel may obstruct DNA repair, impairing the body’s capacity to fight against many malignancies.

Smoking contributes to around one in three cancer deaths in the US. Additionally, it isn’t simply lung cancer.

Smoking may impair vision and weaken bones while also increasing the risk of cancer in a variety of tissues and organs.

It makes it more difficult for women to become pregnant. Erectile dysfunction can result in males as well.

Psychological Effects 

Addiction is the foundation of mental health issues. In addition to the fact that addiction is a mental disorder in and of itself, tobacco and nicotine addiction can cause additional stress in your life due to the need to continue using these substances. 

Tobacco products are increasingly more challenging to utilize as the physical impacts of using them are becoming more well-acknowledged. Fewer employers now permit on-site smoking, and there are fewer designated smoking spaces in public.

Tobacco users feel more alone and frustrated since they have to go through more effort to consume the items. Additionally, sustaining the addiction causes financial hardship. You may also be more likely to relapse into addictions that are unrelated to tobacco and nicotine use.

We frequently find that we need to smoke to feel normal and that we cannot finish our daily chores until we have had our cigarette. 

We link our smoking habits to social and daily activities, which creates triggers and makes it challenging to carry out normal tasks without smoking. 

The buzz we get after inhaling nicotine is caused by the body’s production of the stimulant adrenaline. Dopamine is released by a specific region of the brain that is activated by nicotine, making you feel pleased. 

We experience delightful sensations like relaxation, a buzz, and relief from stress when dopamine is released. 

However, as we become hooked on nicotine, it starts to impair our capacity for enjoyment, which makes us require more nicotine to maintain positive sensations.

Benefits For Those Who Quit Smoking

People who stop smoking experience several advantages, including virtually immediate and long-lasting physical advantages.

After smoking their last cigarette, a smoker’s heart rate and blood pressure start to return to normal in about 20 minutes.

Carbon monoxide levels normalize after 12 hours, boosting the blood’s ability to transport oxygen.

One day after quitting, the chance of having a heart attack starts to decline as blood pressure and heart rates return to normal. The nerve endings that control taste and smell begin to heal after two days.

Roughly a month after quitting, the lungs get better, causing less coughing and breathlessness. Within weeks, the fragile, hair-like cilia in the airways and lungs begin to repair. 

After nine months, they fully recovered, increasing resistance to infection. Heart disease risk is reduced by half at the one-year mark as blood vessel function increases.

At five years of going sober, the probability of a clot developing drastically decreases, and the risk of stroke keeps decreasing.

After 10 years, there is a 50% reduction in the likelihood of getting deadly lung cancer, most likely as a result of the body’s ability to repair DNA being re-established.

The risk of coronary heart disease is nearly identical to that of a non-smoker after 15 years of smoke-free. 

5 Practical Ways To Quit Smoking

Ways to Quit Smoking

No sense in making it seem like this is all simple. As a result of nicotine withdrawal, quitting can cause anxiety and stress.

Fortunately, these symptoms are often transient. And with a larger selection of tools at our disposal, quitting has become easier.

Let’s talk about some practical ways that can assist you in sustainable Nicotine Withdrawal.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

When you first quit smoking, it might be difficult to get through the initial stages of withdrawal since so many empty nicotine receptors are clamoring for their fix.

As your brain returns to its pre-smoking state over time, there are progressively fewer nicotine receptors.

The following are some things to do while you’re waiting for your brain to function normally:

techniques that have been clinically proven to reduce certain withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine replacement treatment, or NRT, is one of them. 

Just the right amount of nicotine enters the body through NRT and binds to nicotine receptors, keeping many but not all of them full. You may have withdrawal symptoms after you stop smoking, but this helps to lessen them.

NRT comes in two forms: long-acting and short-acting. 

NRT patches are long-acting. They keep a steady, low level of nicotine receptors filled for a long period to help make withdrawal symptoms like feeling cranky or restless more manageable.

Short-acting NRT products include gum, lozenge, nasal spray, and inhaler. These get nicotine to the brain pretty fast, but the nicotine doesn’t stay for very long. 

They can be helpful when you suddenly get a stronger craving. NRT weakens the cravings and re-trains the brain to start losing its extra nicotine receptors. 

Using both long and short-acting forms of NRT together is more effective than using one type alone. Use the patch for that steady, low level of nicotine throughout the day, and then the gum,

lozenge, spray, or inhaler for those moments when you have shorter, stronger cravings.

Psychotherapy

Particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy has been demonstrated to be quite successful at helping individuals quit smoking.

CBT aids in identifying the patient’s feelings, ideas, behaviors, and physical responses. It studies all these attributes that are linked to their addiction to smoking. 

Bringing these elements of their smoking experience to the fore helps them have a better understanding of how they typically handle urges to smoke and the frustration that results from not smoking.

Patients can start dismantling the unhelpful reactions they have built for themselves as a result of CBT, which over time has helped them become dependent on cigarettes. They are instead able to begin formulating fresh responses to the withdrawal symptoms.

Federal & State Addiction Rehab Programs

When you’re on your own, quitting smoking is challenging. A support program often gives smokers a considerably higher chance of successfully stopping. 

Health departments, hospitals, community centers, workplaces, and international organizations all provide cessation programs. 

The greatest smoking cessation programs use a variety of strategies and focus on the anxieties and issues you may have when stopping. 

They also offer continuing encouragement for quitting smoking. The establishment of a support system and the selection of non-smoking aids will be assisted by trained counselors.

Support Groups

When you have decided to stop smoking, support groups might be motivating. Information about support groups in your region can be available through your local health department. 

Support groups provide many advantages that can help you stay motivated and committed to your objective. You can learn about the social, psychological, and physical effects of smoking in smoking cessation support groups. 

Compared to people who quit on their own, participants had a six times higher likelihood of being smoke-free after one year. 

Furthermore, data indicate that up to 60% of smokers will have given up by the program’s conclusion. Your odds of success go up, and you stay motivated. 

These organizations provide you the chance to vent your emotions, as well as hope and the self-assurance to give up.

Family Support

Support from family members can assist in the mental transition to an addiction-free life, decrease relapses, and raise the probability that treatment will be effective. 

A loved one may need your assistance whether you are a family member, friend, or spouse so that they may concentrate on restoring their whole bodily and emotional health. 

Commit to providing family support, particularly in the early phases of recovery. We must acknowledge that, despite their commitment to a life of recovery, you and your loved one may still have difficulties as a result of their addiction. 

It is wise to openly explore the potential for these difficulties and create a strategy for effectively overcoming obstacles.

Apps to Help You Quit Smoking

Apart from the above, if you are willing to get some external help in smoking cessation you can install these applications that can provide guidance and support.

WellHeal

The WellHeal App provides effective smoking cessation help by combining two effective methods of psychotherapy: CBT and Music Therapy. 

Not only that, but it also consists of different treatments for other mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, insomnia, etc. 

WellHeal is a proven solution to physically, mentally, and psychologically stabilize your life. An App focused on Your Healing, Wellness & Mindfulness. 

It transcends the compulsive cycles of life and defines an ultimate process to attain mental freedom and liberation.

EasyQuit

EasyQuit

With the help of EasyQuit, smokers can measure their progress toward quitting by seeing how many days and hours they have gone without a cigarette. 

Not only that but it also shows how much money they have saved, and how their health is improving. For people who wish to stop on their own, it is intended to offer inspiration, accountability, and support.

A memory game for resisting cravings, a journaling tool, and a log to record triggers are all included in EasyQuit. It consists of inspirational badges to motivate people to keep going even when there is no community forum for help.

Download App: Google Play Store Button   App Store Button 

Quit Genius

Quit Genius

With the use of CBT, Quit Genius enables you to define your own goals for quitting. With trackers for money saved and the extra years of life you’ve earned by quitting smoking, the app also aids in motivating you.

Once you’ve selected a stop date, the app offers tools and ideas to keep you motivated. Using breathing techniques and audio recordings, cravings may be controlled. The option to communicate with a dedicated quit coach is a premium feature. Having a coach’s assistance might be beneficial if you have unsuccessfully tried to stop on your own.

The app also gives you the chance to test your knowledge on how to stop smoking if you like taking knowledge tests.

Download App: Google Play Store Button   App Store Button

Smoke-Free

Smoke Free

Smoke-Free employs scientifically supported behavior modification methods to assist you in quitting smoking. 

The app offers graphs to track your progress, advice on overcoming urges, and the chance to take part in studies to assist others in giving up smoking. 

Additionally, it contains more than 30 tried-and-true strategies to improve your chances of quitting effectively.

Smoke-Free gives users access to stop-smoking coaches, a tracker for quitting, accomplishment badges, a journal for quitting, financial advantages of smoking, and graphs showing how their health has improved. 

Moreover, you may journal your triggers and share your successes with others. The free software is notable for its community involvement.

Download App: Google Play Store Button   App Store Button 

Quit Tracker

Quit Tracker

This app called Quit Tracker allows you to keep track of the money you’ll save and the changes to your health you’ll experience once you stop smoking.

The best thing about this app is to get a statistical view of your quitting smoking. The day and hour you last smoked may be reset in Quit Tracker as well. There is also a diversion tool to assist you to get through when the cravings strike.

If you want support for quitting and need a concrete means to track your success, Quit Tracker can be useful.

Download App: Google Play Store Button

Final Words

False beginnings can occur with big changes sometimes. If you’re like many others who could successfully stop smoking for weeks or even months before getting a sudden, intense need that makes you feel like you must give in. 

The temptation may also seduce you if you unintentionally get into one of your trigger circumstances. It’s not a sign of failure if you make a mistake. You just are a person, that’s all. reorient yourself.

It can be difficult to quit smoking. Set aside the money you typically use to purchase smokes. 

Reward yourself, such as a movie ticket, clothing, or a gift card, if you’ve quit smoking for a week, two weeks, or a month. Every year without smoking is a reason for celebration once again.

Happy Quitting!

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