Nicotine's Effects on the Body

Smoking is a widespread habit which cuts through all demographical barriers. Up until recently, there were people who believed that smoking was not addictive and smokers could quit smoking anytime, if they are willing. It’s now clinically proven that smoking is very addictive. More significantly, the nicotine found in tobacco is almost as addictive as banned drugs like cocaine or heroin.

The organic compound nicotine which is found in tobacco contains the elements oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon. It falls under a compound category called alkaloids. Plants such as the tobacco plant produce alkaloids as a deterrent for animals and insects.

The reason why people continue smoking is markedly different from the reason why people start smoking. People generally start smoking because of peer influence or to release stress but people continue to smoke because their bodies get addicted to nicotine. The highly addictive nature of nicotine makes the smokers dependant on the drug. This is called nicotine dependency.

Only minute quantities of nicotine inhaled through cigarettes can have a major effect on the circulation system and the brain. Although certain experts have suggested that nicotine in small amounts can enhance brain functions such as increase one’s memory or speed up cognitive processing, the harm caused by nicotine far outweighs the benefits. Nicotine affects the circulatory system by unnaturally increasing the heart rate and increasing the blood pressure. It causes smokers to breathe faster and eventually reduce their stamina. Nicotine is found to suppress a person’s appetite and disrupt the sleeping patterns.

Once a smoker is addicted to tobacco, several emotional and physical changes transpire. Some of the symptoms include anxiety, dizziness, depression, and craving for more nicotine. Nicotine stimulates the brain to secrete a pleasure chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical which regulates the reward and pleasure system in the brain. Since smoking releases dopamine, smokers feel happy when they smoke. One of the chief side effects is the withdrawal symptoms which appear when a person quits smoking. Nicotine withdrawal occurs because the dopamine levels in the brain drop drastically, causing the smokers to get into mood swings, depressions or have tobacco cravings. What’s more, severe withdrawal symptoms can appear a few days after a chain smoker has quit smoking.

Nicotine’s property of altering the emotional and physical states of the smoker makes smoking a dangerous habit. Smokers who have quit smoking do not only prove their mental strength, they also show their ability to endure the physical and emotional turmoil which ensues after they kick the habit of smoking tobacco.

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