Nicotine addiction occurs when you need nicotine and cannot stop using it. Nicotine is the chemical in tobacco that makes it hard to quit smoking. Nicotine produces pleasurable effects in the brain, but these effects are temporary. Then have another cigarette.
The more you smoke, the more nicotine you will need to feel comfortable. When you try to quit smoking, you experience uncomfortable mental and physical changes. These are nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
No matter how long you smoke, quitting can improve your health. It's not easy, but you can break your nicotine addiction. Many effective treatments are available. Ask your doctor for help.
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For some people, using tobacco in any amount can quickly lead to nicotine addiction. Signs that you might be addicted include:
- You can't quit smoking.You have made one or more serious but unsuccessful attempts to quit smoking.
- You experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit smoking.Your attempts to quit smoking have caused physical and mood-related symptoms such as cravings, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, depressed mood, frustration, anger, increased hunger, insomnia, constipation, or diarrhea .
- They continue to smoke despite health problems.Even if he developed health problems in his lungs or heart, he couldn't stop.
- They abandon social activities.You may stop going to smoke-free restaurants or seeing family and friends because you are not allowed to smoke in these situations.
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You're not alone if you've tried to quit smoking but haven't been able to for good. Most smokers make many attempts to quit before achieving stable, long-term abstinence.
You are more likely to quit smoking for good if you follow a treatment plan that addresses the physical and behavioral aspects of nicotine addiction. Taking medication and working with a counselor who is specifically trained to help smokers quit (a tobacco specialist) will greatly increase your chances of success.
Ask your medical team to help you develop a treatment plan that works for you or for advice on where to get help to quit smoking.
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Video: Smoking - Anatomy of Nicotine Addiction
In many people, the nicotine in cigarettes stimulates receptors in the brain to release dopamine, triggering a pleasure response. Over time, the number of nicotine receptors increases and the anatomy of the brain changes. When you quit smoking, you disrupt the brain's pleasure response because the receptors are deprived of nicotine, which triggers nicotine withdrawal symptoms. If you go ahead and use smoking cessation products for withdrawal symptoms and cravings, the number of nicotine receptors will return to normal and help you quit smoking for good.
Nicotine is the chemical in tobacco that keeps you from smoking. Nicotine reaches the brain seconds after a puff. In the brain, nicotine increases the release of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which help regulate mood and behavior.
Dopamine, one of these neurotransmitters, is released in the brain's reward center and causes feelings of pleasure and elevated mood.
The more you smoke, the more nicotine you will need to feel comfortable. Nicotine quickly becomes a part of your daily life and mixes with your habits and feelings.
Common situations that trigger the urge to smoke are:
- Drink coffee or take breaks at work
- to make a phone call
- drink alcohol
- you drive a car
- spend time with friends
To overcome your nicotine addiction, you need to be aware of your triggers and create a plan to deal with them.
Anyone who smokes or uses other forms of tobacco is at risk of becoming dependent. Factors that influence who uses tobacco include:
- To alter.Most people start smoking in childhood or adolescence. The younger you are when you start smoking, the greater your chance of becoming dependent.
- Genetic.The probability that you start smoking and continue to smoke may be partly inherited. Genetic factors can affect how receptors on the surface of nerve cells in the brain respond to high doses of nicotine from cigarettes.
- parents and peers.Children who grow up with parents who smoke are more likely to become smokers. Kids with friends who smoke are also more likely to try it.
- depression or other mental illnesses.Many studies show a link between depression and smoking. People with depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other forms of mental illness are more likely to smoke.
- substance usePeople who abuse alcohol and illegal drugs are more likely to be smokers.
Tobacco smoke contains more than 60 known cancer-causing chemicals and thousands of other pollutants. Even "all natural" or herbal cigarettes contain harmful chemicals.
You already know that people who smoke cigarettes are much more likely to get and die from certain diseases than people who don't smoke. But you may not realize how many different health problems smoking causes:
- Lung cancer and lung diseases.Smoking is the leading cause of death from lung cancer. In addition, smoking causes lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also makes asthma worse.
- Other types of cancer.Smoking increases the risk of many types of cancer, including cancers of the mouth, throat (pharynx), esophagus, larynx, bladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix, and some types of leukemia. Overall, smoking causes 30% of all cancer deaths.
- heart and circulation problems.Smoking increases the risk of dying from heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) diseases, including heart attacks and strokes. If you have heart or vascular diseases, such as heart failure, smoking will worsen your condition.
- Diabetes.Smoking increases insulin resistance, which can set the stage for type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, smoking can speed the progression of complications like kidney disease and eye problems.
- eye problemsSmoking can increase the risk of serious eye problems such as cataracts and vision loss due to macular degeneration.
- infertility and impotence.Smoking increases the risk of reduced fertility in women and the risk of impotence in men.
- complications during pregnancy.Mothers who smoke during pregnancy are at increased risk of having preterm and low birth weight babies.
- Cold, flu and other illnesses.Smokers are more prone to respiratory infections such as colds, flu, and bronchitis.
- Diseases of the teeth and gums.Smoking is associated with an increased risk of gingivitis and severe gingivitis, which can destroy the supporting system of the teeth (periodontal disease).
Smoking also poses health risks to those around you. Spouses and partners of smokers who do not smoke have a higher risk of lung cancer and heart disease than people who do not live with smokers. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to have asthma, ear infections, and colds.
The best way to prevent nicotine addiction is to avoid tobacco use in the first place.
The best way to get kids to quit smoking is not to smoke. Research has shown that children whose parents do not smoke or who have successfully quit smoking are much less likely to start smoking.
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- Mayo Clinic's exclusive smoking cessation program brings hope to long-term addiction. Thomas Bennett tried to quit chewing tobacco between 75 and 100 times before entering the Mayo Clinic. Even a precancerous condition in his mouth didn't stop him. Before each doctor's appointment, "I threw away my can of gum, it said I had no cancer, and then I bought another can of gum," Thomas recalls. "That's how bad my addiction was." In April 2021, Thomas joined the Mayo Clinic...
By Mayo Clinic staff