How Nicotine Addiction Works
Addiction means that a person cannot control their use of a substance . Nicotine causes addiction and physical dependence.
- Nicotine may cause you to temporarily feel good or energized. It also causes the release of natural chemicals in your brain that may make you feel more alert and calm.
- Over time, your body builds a tolerance to some of the effects of nicotine and you must therefore continue to smoke to make the effects last.
- When you go without tobacco for more than a few hours, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Many people continue to smoke to avoid feeling this way.
Smoking is also a learned behaviour, causing you to form habits that are tough to break. You learn to associate things with smoking, like:
- the pleasant feelings that it brings you
- the temporary relief of worry, tension, boredom or fatigue
- drinking coffee or alcohol
- having a good time with friends
What About Quitting Medications Like Champix And Zyban
If you visit your GP you can get a prescription for a quitting medication such as Champix or Zyban . Quitting medication can help to reduce nicotine withdrawal such as cravings, irritability and sleeplessness. If you have a prescription, you can buy these products at a discounted rate.
Quitting medications will not stop all cravings entirely but they will work on nicotine addiction. This makes it easier for you to focus on habits and routines stress and smoking and social situations and alcohol.
How Can I Resist The Urge To Smoke When Im Around Smokers
You may want to analyze situations in which watching others smoke triggers an urge in you to smoke. Figure out what it is about those situations that makes you want to smoke. Is it because you associate feeling happy with being around other smokers? Or, is there something special about the situations, such as being around the people you usually smoked with? Is it tempting to join others for routine smoke breaks?
Here are some tips:
- Limit your contact with smokers, especially in the early weeks of quitting.
- Do not buy, carry, light, or hold cigarettes for others.
- If you are in a group and others light up, excuse yourself, and donât return until they have finished.
- Do not let people smoke in your home. Post a small âNo Smokingâ sign by your front door.
- Ask others to help you stay quit. Give them specific examples of things that are helpful and things that are not helpful .
- Focus on what youâve gained by quitting. For example, think of how healthy you will be when all smoking effects are gone from your body and you can call yourself smoke-free. Also, add up how much money you have saved already by not purchasing cigarettes and imagine how you will spend your savings in 6 months.
Read Also: How To Help And Addict
The Cycle Of The Smoking Habit
The cycle of the smoking habit and nicotine addiction is one that many find hard to quit. Thankfully, there are safer options to get your fix, like vaping. The more you smoke, the more your body needs to sustain those pleasurable feelings. Over time, you will develop a smoking routine that integrates with social activities, work schedules, and other triggers.
For instance, as soon as the phone rings, you may grab a cup of coffee and light-up as a source of habit. You probably arent even aware that youre doing these things because they become second nature.
Triggers are another significant part of nicotine addiction. Do you notice that when you are stressed out, you reach for your cigarettes to calm you down? If the problems of the day are grating on your nerves, you may find solace in a couple of cigarettes in the great outdoors.
The cycle of smoking means that if you want to keep feeling the pleasure that calms you down, you need to keep smoking. Once you break that cycle, your body goes through withdrawal.
Nicotine And Neurotransmitter Release
Stimulation of nicotinic cholinergic receptors releases a variety of neurotransmitters in the brain., One of them, dopamine, signals a pleasurable experience and is critical for the reinforcing effects of nicotine and other drugs of abuse, as well as for compelling drives such as eating. Experimentally induced lesions in dopamine-releasing neurons prevent self-administration of nicotine in rats. Nicotine releases dopamine in the mesolimbic area, the corpus striatum, and the frontal cortex . The dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the midbrain and in the shell of the nucleus accumbens are critical in drug-induced reward .,
Role of the Mesolimbic Dopamine System in Nicotine Activity
Nicotine activates 42* receptors in the ventral tegmental area, resulting in dopamine release in the shell of the nucleus accumbens.
Nicotine also augments both glutamate release, which facilitates the release of dopamine, and -aminobutyric acid release, which inhibits dopamine release., With long-term exposure to nicotine, some nicotinic cholinergic receptors become desensitized but some do not. As a result, GABA-mediated inhibitory tone diminishes while glutamate-mediated excitation persists, thereby increasing excitation of dopaminergic neurons and enhancing responsiveness to nicotine.
Also Check: Why Do You Get Addicted To Nicotine
Smoking And The Nicotine Addiction
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance because of the way it makes us feel, both emotionally and physically, and because the way we obtain nicotine becomes a normal part of our daily lives. When most people think about serious addition, they think of cocaine or heroin addiction, but tobacco is also a highly addictive substance that is hard to eliminate from your life once you’ve started using it. When a person becomes addicted to smoking, they smoke in order to achieve the physiological and psychological satisfaction that smoking provides. Unfortunately, smoking-related satisfaction is very short-lived and new cravings develop quickly. Recognizing the nature of your addiction, including the physical and psychological cravings, can help you to identify and prepare for the difficulties you might face while you are in the process of quitting.
Frequent use of tobacco products results in addiction to nicotine, and repeated exposure to nicotine results in the development of tolerance for the drug. As tolerance builds, it takes a higher dose of nicotine to produce the same level of stimulation. A similar reaction takes place in people who consume alcoholthe more often you consume alcohol, the more you need to drink to feel the effects. Nicotine is metabolized rapidly, which means it disappears from the body completely in just a few hours, so smokers need to smoke more and more often to continue to feel the same pleasurable effects.
How To Ease Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms
Quitting nicotine cold-turkey can result in more severe withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine replacement therapy is helpful in alleviating withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings. It involves the use of products that contain low doses of nicotine and include nicotine patches, lozenges, gum, inhalers and sprays. These products are safe when used over a limited period and deliver small doses of nicotine without the toxic chemicals present in tobacco products. Nicotine replacement therapy involves using higher doses of these products at the onset and tapering off the nicotine dose amount over time.
Other medications, such as varenicline and the antidepressant bupropion, are also effective in reducing cravings for nicotine.
Don’t Miss: What Do Addiction Counselors Do
Are There Products To Help People Quit Smoking That Do Not Contain Nicotine
Yes, a doctor may prescribe one of several medicines that do not contain nicotine:
- Bupropion, a prescription antidepressant, was approved by the FDA in 1997 to treat nicotine addiction . This drug can help to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms and the urge to smoke and can be used safely with nicotine replacement products . Several side effects are associated with this product. Discuss with your doctor if this medicine is right for you.
- Varenicline, a prescription medicine marketed as ChantixÂ®, was approved by the FDA in 2006 to help cigarette smokers stop smoking. This drug may help those who wish to quit by easing their nicotine cravings and by blocking the pleasurable effects of nicotine if they do resume smoking. Several side effects are associated with this product. Discuss with your doctor if this medicine is right for you.
Causes Of Nicotine Addiction
Smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products causes nicotine addiction. Nicotine is very addictive, so even infrequent use can lead to dependence.
Its possible for smoking cessation products, such as nicotine gum, lozenges, or patches, to cause nicotine addiction. However, the risk is low. This is because the amount of nicotine in these products is lower and delivered more slowly than the nicotine in tobacco.
Recommended Reading: How Long Does It Take To Be Addicted To Heroin
How Do You Know If Youre Drunk Or Buzzed
How to Tell if Youre Drunk or Buzzed
Why Is Nicotine Dangerous
Nicotine can lead to addiction, which puts you at risk of becoming a lifelong smoker and exposing you to the many harmful chemicals in tobacco. These chemicals cause cancer and harm almost every organ in your body. Teens are especially sensitive to nicotines addictive effects because their brains are still developing and this makes it easier to get hooked. Using nicotine at your age can also rewire your brain to become more easily addicted to other drugs.
Nicotine can have other long-lasting effects on your brain development, making it harder for you to concentrate, learn, and control your impulses.
You May Like: Where To Buy Brooks Addiction Shoes
The Problem With Cold Turkey
The physical withdrawal from nicotine is only temporary, but it can be difficult to cope with your bodys reaction. Smoking cessation aids can help you manage the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Quitting smoking without any aids is known as quitting cold turkey. People who use the cold turkey approach may begin to feel withdrawal symptoms as soon as two hours after their last cigarette. Symptoms will start to get worse the longer it has been since you last smoked.
Peak withdrawal occurs about three days after your last cigarette. Then, as your body becomes accustomed to not having the nicotine, symptoms of withdrawal will subside.
, there are five types of cessation aids that specifically help with nicotine withdrawal:
- nicotine patches: Habitrol, Nicoderm, Nicotrol, and Prostep
- nicotine gum: Nicorette
- inhalers: Nicotrol
- nasal spray: Nicotrol
The above methods work by providing the body with small amounts of nicotine. Over time, as you keep taking the product, you will decrease the amount of nicotine that you use. The idea is to help gradually decrease nicotine dependence without the difficulties of quitting cold turkey.
There are also prescription oral medications available for smoking cessation. These include the brand names Wellbutrin and Zyban. These drugs do not specifically address nicotine withdrawal. Instead, they work by sending chemical messages to the brain to mimic the effects of nicotine.
Vaping Vs Regular Cigarettes
Weighing the pros and cons of vaping versus smoking is difficult to do. On the one hand, e-cigarettes likely do not produce 7,000 chemicalssome of which cause cancerwhen they are activated, like regular combustible cigarettes do. However, the aerosol from a vape device has not been proven safe. Studies have found that it contains lead and volatile organic compounds, some of which are linked to cancer. Researchers are still gathering data on the possible long-term health effects from vaping. Its notable that e-cigarettes have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as smoking cessation devices. However, e-cigarettes may be a better choice for adult smokers if they completely replace smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
But where nicotine levels are concerned, a newer and popular type of vape device, called a pod mod, outcompetes many other e-cigarette devices. The form of nicotine in these pods is estimated to be 2 to 10 times more concentrated than most free-base nicotine found in other vape liquids. A single pod from one vape manufacturer contains 0.7 mL of nicotine, which is about the same as 20 regular cigarettes.
Despite its extremely addictive nature, people can successfully quit using nicotine with personalized approaches, especially under the guidance of physicians who understand addiction.
Read Also: Why Do People Get Addicted To Opioids
How Can I Resist The Urge To Smoke When I’m Driving Or Riding In A Car
You may have become used to smoking while drivingâto relax in a traffic jam or to stay alert on a long drive. Like many smokers, you may like to light up when driving to and from work to relieve stress, stay alert, relax, or just pass the time. There is some evidence that smoking actually does make you feel more awake and alert.
Tips for short trips:
- Remove the ashtray, lighter, and cigarettes from your car.
- Keep nonfattening snacks in your car .
- Turn on your favorite music and sing along.
- Take an alternate route to work or try carpooling.
- Clean your car and make sure to use deodorizers to reduce the tobacco smell.
- Tell yourself:
- âThis urge will go away in a few minutes.â
- âSo, Iâm not enjoying this car ride. Big deal! It wonât last forever!â
- âMy car smells clean and fresh!â
- âIâm a better driver now that Iâm not smoking while driving.â
When you are driving or riding with other people:
- Ask passengers not to smoke in your car.
- If youâre not driving, find something to do with your hands.
Your desire to smoke may be stronger and more frequent on longer trips. Tips for long trips:
- Take a stretch break.
- Plan stops for water or fruit juice.
The Mental & Behavioral Side Of Nicotine Addiction
Another reason why nicotine is addictive is that it becomes part of your routine and a coping mechanism. This creates a mental and psychological dependence on nicotine.
While nicotine goes to your brain and creates this dopamine release, youre usually doing certain things or activities.
So your brain has learned to link smoking and nicotine to those activities, routines, habits, and situations.
These situations become triggers. If you usually smoke while talking on the phone, then after a while talking on the phone will trigger cravings.
There are 4 types of smoking triggers: emotional, environmental, social, and double-habit triggers. Some of them are:
- Emotions you want to escape
- Seeing other people smoking or smelling cigarettes
- In between tasks
With time, these situations seem incomplete or unenjoyable without cigarettes or nicotine. If you smoke when bored, then your brain has learned to expect a dopamine release when you feel that way.
If this dopamine release doesnt come then you momentarily feel down. You may even think that boredom is unbearable without smoking, vaping, or nicotine.
Thats natural. The more you smoke, the more you rely on nicotine to cope with life. If you feel stressed or anxious, you probably smoke. After a while, its easy to think you cant calm down or relax without that cigarette.
Fortunately, thats not the case. Everything you do as a smoker you can do better as a non-smoker.
Also Check: How To Convince An Addict To Go To Rehab
What Does Nicotine Addiction Feel Like
Exactly lol couldn’t have said it better
I vape, and my mod can feel like an extension of my body at times. If im at a party and I loose my phone, I assume Itll pop up. If im at a party and loose my mod, I cant have a good time until its found again. stressful.
Nicotine withdrawal, you mean? Breathe out, all the way out. Now don’t breathe in for as long as you can. That feeling in your gut is what nicotine withdrawal feels like all day long.
No addiction. Is it purely physical like if you don’t smoke/vape you’ll get headaches and such? What does the actual “urge to smoke” feel like?
I connect cigarettes with enjoyable moments in my life such as coffees and going out or having a relaxing break so when I can’t light one I feel like the moment isn’t special enough
Like an itch you can’t scratch, like something is missing…
It’s like being reminded of a bad decision you made at 15 years old, multiple times a day, every day til the day you quit.
Effects Of Nicotine On The Brain
Once the nicotine is in your brain, it binds to the receptors of some of your brain cells. Think about these receptors as a lock and the nicotine as a key.
It just so happens that nicotine can lock into these receptors, that are now called Nicotine receptors.
The nicotine receptors are activated whenever a chemical binds to them. Its usually acetylcholine, another chemical, that binds to these receptors, but nicotine can also bind to them.
In other words, nicotine steals the place of acetylcholine and binds to the receptors. This causes a release of happy chemicals or else, a nicotine buzz.
After a while, your brain releases less acetylcholine. Now you need nicotine to bind to the receptors. And thats how nicotine becomes addictive.
Also Check: How To Get Rid Of Fast Food Addiction
Symptoms Of Nicotine Addiction
Using nicotine, in any form, can quickly lead to nicotine dependence.
Nicotine dependence is an addiction to products that contain nicotine. Being addicted means you cant or dont want to stop using the product youre addicted to.
Below are some signs of nicotine addiction:
- Planning your activities and interests to allow smoking.
- Enjoying the taste and smell of cigarettes.
- Experiencing cravings for nicotine.
- Not enjoying socializing with non-smokers as much as you do with other smokers.
- Experiencing mental and physical withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop. Mood changes, irritability, headaches, increased appetite, restlessness, insomnia, are some of these symptoms.
- Continuing smoking or using nicotine despite health problems that would improve if you stopped.
- Rationalizing your behavior and finding reasons to smoke, vape or chew.