Tobacco Addiction Symptoms

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Addiction to tobacco products such as cigarettes is a complex problem caused by the effect of the powerful stimulant drug nicotine combined with the psychological habit of tobacco use itself.

Nicotine produces a number of chemical effects and impacts virtually every organ in the body. It is both highly toxic as well as extremely addictive. An addiction to tobacco may result in a person developing serious long-term illnesses or debilitating disease, some of which may be fatal. It is also possible for a person who has never smoked to get sick from passively breathing in second-hand smoke.

It is unfortunately very easy to become addicted to the nicotine in tobacco as any drop in the amount of nicotine starts to make a person feel uncomfortable, reinforcing a powerful dependency.

Tobacco addiction symptoms arise quickly

Tobacco addiction symptoms occur as the body becomes accustomed to the presence of nicotine in order to feel normal. Approximately 20 to 40 minutes after smoking a cigarette or using tobacco, a person will start to become aware of the need to go for a smoke, in order to address the falling levels of nicotine in the body. These powerful cravings become more intense as time goes on.

Nicotine that is inhaled during smoking enters the lungs and is then transported through the blood stream to the brain. Once it reaches the brain, the nicotine produces various pleasurable feelings, and also increases levels of dopamine. Dopamine is linked to the pleasure and reward system in the brain and plays a role in motivating a person to repeat certain rewarding activities.

Nicotine is fairly quickly broken down in the brain and used up, but not before it has produced a pleasurable euphoric sensation. The extra dopamine in the brain will stimulate the person to maintain this feeling, which means taking in more nicotine.

A person who is experiencing tobacco addiction symptoms will, therefore, encounter increasing discomfort in order to stimulate them to replenish the level of nicotine. These physical and emotional symptoms can range from anxiety and irritability to headaches, depression, poor concentration, dizziness, disturbed sleep, weight gain, fatigue, and constant cravings for more nicotine.

Although tobacco addiction symptoms are most commonly associated with cigarette smoking, it is also possible to become addicted to the nicotine in other tobacco products such as cigars and smokeless tobacco.

photo by John Nyboer

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