Nicotine meets all the criteria for a dependence-producing drug. As a result, most people who smoke develop nicotine dependence. This makes trying to quit smoking extremely difficult, especially if a person tries to stop smoking independently. Nicotine is a very addictive, toxic, oily liquid that is the main ingredient of tobacco. Nicotine is also in a lot of commercial insecticides. It is a stimulant in small doses, but it blocks the action of both the skeletal muscle cells and autonomic nerve in large amounts. Nicotine is found in cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, hookahs, clove, and bidi cigarettes.
Nicotine or Heroin, Which is More Addictive?
Nicotine is just as or more addictive than heroin and cocaine. Tobacco companies profit big time from creating and sustaining an addiction to tobacco. The tobacco in cigarettes is processed to make people become addicted and then develop a dependence on it. The nicotine that is in tobacco has a number of toxins in it and is more addictive than pure nicotine.
Impact of Nicotine Smoking
Cigarettes are responsible for half of the lifelong regular smokers’ deaths. This also causes an average of 22 years of life expectancy to be lost. Many of the tobacco-related diseases and premature deaths are due to the by-products of addiction.
How Does Nicotine Work?
When a person inhales cigarette smoke, it takes 10 seconds for the nicotine to reach the brain. When nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream, it causes adrenaline and dopamine to be released (these are the brain’s feel-good chemicals). This stimulates the central nervous system and increases blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate. The National Institute on Drug Abuse “Recent Research Sheds New Light on Why Nicotine is So Addictive” states:
Nicotine does not produce the kind of euphoria or impairment that many other drugs like opioids and marijuana do. People do not get high from smoking cigarettes or vaping. Yet nicotine’s powerful ability to reinforce its relatively mild rewards results in 480,000 deaths annually. There are probably several reasons why nicotine is so reinforcing, even if it is not as intensely rewarding as other drugs. Like other drugs, nicotine stimulates dopamine release in neurons that connect the nucleus accumbens with the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, and other brain regions; this dopamine signal “teaches” the brain to repeat the behavior of taking the drug. (DRUGABUSE.GOV)
A smoker associates smoking with feeling good. They get addicted to the taste, feel of the cigarette, and the hand-to-mouth or oral fixation.
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