Smoking Addiction

Smoking Habit
Smoking addiction is an uncontrollable dependence on cigarettes to the point where stopping smoking would cause severe emotional, mental, or physical reactions. Research on why people smoke shows that smoking behavior is multifaceted. The factors that influence smoking initiation are different from those of smoking behavior. Nicotine dependence, genetic factors, and psychosocial factors influence smoking behavior. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug and also a potent psychoactive drug that induces a euphoric, reinforces its own use, and the user suffers from withdrawal syndromes when not in use. Nicotine possesses two very potent qualities, a stimulant, but also a depressant. This addiction affects the mood and performance of the user.

Why is nicotine so addicting? It enters the bloodstream, through the lungs and through the lining of the mouth. Although its effects are less dramatic than those of other addictive drugs, smoking doses of nicotine causes stimulation of the “pleasure centers” in the brain, which explains the pleasure and addictiveness of smoking. This is the reason why so many fail to stop, because they are addicted. This does not mean that you cannot stop, just expect that it is likely to be difficult.

Nicotine stimulates the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, stimulating the endocrine system. One needs to continually increase levels of nicotine in order to maintain the stimulation. In regards to dependence, experts rank nicotine ahead of alcohol, cocaine, and heroin. Nicotine alters the dopamine and serotonin in the brain. It causes increases in heart rate and blood pressure. Small rapid doses produce alertness and arousal. Long drawn-out doses induce relaxation and sedation. The addiction of nicotine has a pronounced effect on the major stress hormones.

Smoking addiction is classified as nicotine use disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The criteria for this can include, tolerance with decreased effect and need for increasing doses, withdrawals after quitting, smoking more than usual, persistent desire, postponing work or other events to have a smoke, and continuing to smoke despite health issues. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include, difficulty concentrating, nervousness, headaches, weight gain, insomnia, irritability, and depression. These symptoms will gradually fade within a month.

Everyone knows that smoking is harmful and addictive, but few people realize just how risky and addictive it is. Chances are that about one in three smokers who do not stop will eventually die because of their smoking, on average, 10 to 15 years earlier than they would have died from other causes.

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