When you smoke, nicotine from the burning tobacco enters your lungs, and is absorbed in the bloodstream. It then reaches your brain in 7 seconds. Once it’s there, nicotine triggers several chemical reactions. This creates a pleasurable sensation for the smoker, but these are passing and subside after a few in minutes.
As the amount of nicotine in your blood drops, you start to feel anxious and agitated, this is nicotine withdrawal. To stop the discomfort, you light another cigarette, and the cycle of nicotine addiction goes on. A single stick of cigarette will never be enough, and smokers know this fact.
If you want to quit smoking successfully for good, it will be better if you’ll learn what nicotine addiction is and how to break free from this vicious cycle. You’ll be surprised to know that smoking is actually more than just a bad habit you wanted to change.
Let’s try to take a look on how nicotine disturbs some of your brain functions.
Adrenaline. When you smoke, your brain unnecessarily releases adrenaline. This results to the increase in your heartbeat and blood pressure. When this happens, you’ll experience shallow and rapid breathing. You also feel racing heartbeat. Adrenaline causes the release of extra glucose in your bloodstream as well.
Insulin. Smoking inhibits the pancreas from secreting insulin, the hormone that get rid of the excess sugar in your blood. If you smoke, more sugar is retained in your blood, making you slightly hyperglycemic. This is the reason why you don’t feel hungry often.
Dopamine. Nicotine, a highly addictive substance and a by-product of burning tobacco, triggers and creates similar reward path in your brain as other addictive substances like cocaine do, only at a lesser degree. Smoking increases the release of dopamine in your brain, the “feel good” hormone. And because the effects of nicotine are temporary, soon you’ll feel uncomfortable and edgy, and you’ll have to smoke again to ease the effect of nicotine withdrawal and maintain the pleasurable effects of nicotine.
Other Chemicals in Cigarette Smoke
Aside from nicotine, smoke from burning tobacco contains tar and more than 4000 harmful chemicals. One cigarette, can contain 7 to 22 mg of tar. This increases your risk of lung cancer, bronchial disorders and emphysema.
Another potent compound found in cigarette smoke is carbon monoxide. It increases your risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases especially in children who are exposed to secondhand smoke.
Understanding nicotine addiction is only the beginning of a long but rewarding journey. Once you understand what nicotine is and what smoking does to your body, it will be easier for you to quit smoking and live a healthier life.
Recovering from smoking addiction is a gradual process and is won over time. This doesn’t happen in one night. With strong will, freedom from smoking addiction is possible. As soon as your last cigarette, you’ll start to feel the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal as well as the benefits of quitting smoking. Talk to your doctor about your options.