The effects of nicotine addiction from tobacco use is physically and psychologically compulsive. Nicotine is a drug produced naturally in tobacco leaves and it’s this substance that causes people to become addicted to cigarettes.
Physical Effects of Nicotine Addiction
Studies have shown that physical of nicotine addiction to nicotine can have as much power over your brain as heroin and cocaine. The effects of nicotine gives your brain a quick sensation of pleasure and when it starts to wear off you begin to experience mild nicotine withdrawal symptoms (usually within minutes after finishing a smoke) your brain starts craving more. Over time, the effects of nicotine causes your body to become physically dependent on nicotine – physical nicotine addiction to nicotine.
The effects of nicotine produces pleasurable feelings that make you want to smoke more. Nicotine also acts as a depressant by interfering with the flow of information between nerve cells.
As your nervous system adapts to nicotine, you’ll tend to increase the number of cigarettes you smoke. After a while, you develop a tolerance to nicotine, which leads to physical nicotine addiction to nicotine and an increase in smoking over time. Eventually, the effects of nicotine will create a certain level of the substance in your body which you’ll then smoke to maintain. Physical nicotine addiction to nicotine takes hold.
For regular smokers, nicotine produces mild euphoria, increased arousal, enhanced ability to concentrate, relaxation, and a temporary reduction in the urge to smoke. Within just 7-10 seconds of inhaling cigarette smoke, the effects of nicotine begin affecting your brain. Nicotine acts on cells in the “reward center” of the brain. This results in feelings of pleasure and alertness – the “hit” that your body comes to expect.
When bloodstream nicotine levels are at their peak, your brain is highly stimulated. But within just 30 minutes your body has cleaned out most of the nicotine. You then feel tired, jittery, depressed or fatigued. You begin to crave the physical effects of nicotine, and the addiction cycle continues. This cycle of physical addiction, which increases in intensity and frequency over time, is part of what makes cigarettes so hard to give up. Essentially, the effects of addiction becomes a never-ending battle of trying to stay within the “comfort zone”.
As your nervous system adapts to your physical nicotine addiction, you’ll tend to increase the number of cigarettes you smoke. After a while, you develop a tolerance to nicotine, which leads to an increase in smoking over time. Eventually, you’ll reach a certain level of nicotine in your body which you’ll then smoke to maintain.
Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms
Quitting smoking is followed by strong nicotine withdrawal symptoms that may last a month or more. Withdrawal symptoms can quickly drive people back to smoking and nicotine addiction.
Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include irritability, craving, cognitive and attentional deficits, sleep disturbances, and increased appetite and may begin within a few hours after the last cigarette. Withdrawal symptoms peak within the first few days and may subside within a few weeks. For some people, these symptoms of nicotine withdrawal may persist for months or longer.
Psychological Addiction to Nicotine
Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who studied behavior change in the early 1900s. He observed that dogs normally salivate when they are given food.
In his most well known experiments, now commonly referred to as Pavlov’s dogs,he rang a bell just before he fed his dogs. As a consequence, the dogs began to associate the bell with the presentation of food. Over time, they would salivate if he simply rang the bell without putting out any food. They had subconsciously learned; “Hey when the bell rings it means I’m going to be fed.”
The same thing happens with smoking. After smoking for a long time, various things become linked with smoking cigarettes and can bring on the urge to smoke. For example, if you smoke every time you drive in your car, simply getting into the car can trigger powerful cravings.
It’s like your brain says, “Great I’m in the car now, looks like I’m getting nicotine soon!” Likewise, if you smoke each morning when you first get up, this time of day can lead to powerful cravings for cigarettes, even long after you’ve stopped smoking.
For most people, breaking these connections is one of the most important steps in quitting smoking.