What is tobacco addiction?
Tobacco addiction is entirely related to nicotine – a highly addictive drug, tobacco. However, what causes people to crave cigarettes? Research has shown that smoking tobacco can be as addictive as heroin and cocaine. And why do so many people find quitting smoking challenging despite being aware of the risks? What is tobacco addiction?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, smoke makes us want more of it because it alters how our brains function (FDA).
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) defines a psychoactive substance as one that alters how the brain functions and “causes changes in mood, awareness, thoughts, feelings, or behavior.” LSD, alcohol, and caffeine are more examples of psychoactive drugs.
Mechanism of tobacco addiction development.
According to David Ledgerwood, a clinical psychologist in the Substance Abuse Research Division at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, “the onset of the stimulant-like effects occurs very rapidly through this administration route, ” making nicotine especially addictive when smoked or inhaled.
Ledgerwood claims that because the initial “hit” of pleasure from cigarette smoking is felt almost instantly but quickly wears off, smokers use tobacco frequently to get “the same stimulant experience.”
According to Bernard Le Foll, Chair of Addiction Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, “Tobacco addiction is primarily described as a lack of control on the use of a substance and ongoing use notwithstanding the consequences.”
“People who get addicted to a substance will go through cravings and/or withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it for a while. Nicotine, a psychoactive chemical with a high propensity for addiction, makes tobacco addictive, “Le Foll said.
Nicotine spikes in the bloodstream and enters the brain when tobacco is consumed. According to the Mayo Clinic, nicotine connects to and activates receptors in the cerebral cortex, producing the feel-good brain chemical dopamine. As a result, nicotine soon becomes associated with a “feel-good” feeling in smokers, which causes them to desire it between cigarettes.
According to the Mayo Clinic, habitual smokers have “billions more of these receptors than non-smokers have” because chronic smoking increases the number of nicotine receptors in the brain.
According to Ledgerwood, if a person frequently smokes for months or years, their brain will eventually get acclimated to the presence of nicotine to the point where “they need nicotine to operate well.” The addicted person may have physical withdrawal symptoms when they don’t smoke until their brain gets used to life without nicotine. According to the NCI, these signs include a loss of appetite, inability to focus, insomnia, depression, and depression.
According to Ledgerwood, this and other variables explain why so many smokers find it difficult to quit.
It becomes extremely difficult for someone who wants to stop smoking to do so when they take into account the physiological effects of smoking as well as the fact that cigarettes are still legal, can be purchased at any corner store or gas station, and can still be smoked in a variety of settings, according to Ledgerwood.
The FDA states that nicotine exposure can impair brain development, making it particularly difficult for those who start using tobacco products as adolescents or teenagers to quit. Additionally, it’s simple for young smokers to become addicted since, as brain imaging research revealed, the prefrontal cortex’s control center matures gradually while reward systems in the brain reach adulthood later on. According to the study, adolescents are typically more driven by rewards, less risk-averse, and more susceptible to peer pressure than adults.
Are certain people prone to tobacco addiction?
But do specific individuals have a higher risk of tobacco addiction than others? Does quitting smoking provide the same challenges for everyone, or does it differ depending on the person?
People are not exempt from addiction, according to Ledgerwood. It appears true that exposure to addictive substances at a young age increases the likelihood of developing an addiction. Some persons may be more prone to addiction than others.
The Swedish psychologist Karl-Olov Fagerström created the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence in 1978 as a questionnaire to assess a person’s level of nicotine dependence in relation to cigarette smoking. Although the test has undergone several revisions since its inception, it is still widely used and one of the primary methods for determining addiction. The exam includes inquiries about a person’s first cigarette of the day, daily cigarette consumption, and if they would continue smoking even if they were bedridden with an illness.
Ledgerwood noted that when someone performs very well on this test, it is probably not just the body craving regular nicotine hits to blame. Ledgerwood states, “Significant variables contribute to their smoking for many persons who smoke.” “These people frequently grow up in families where their parents smoke, and as a result, they have been exposed to the activity.
“Although there are some places where smoking is prohibited, cigarettes are still widely available, and there are still many places where individuals can smoke in public. Additionally, there are still a lot of images of smoking in popular culture (movies, TV series), which could help to reinforce the idea that smoking is a common and perhaps even glamorous behavior,” added he. But do specific individuals have a higher risk of addiction than others? Does quitting smoking provide the same challenges for everyone, or does it differ depending on the person?
People are not exempt from tobacco addiction, according to Ledgerwood. It appears true that exposure to addictive substances at a young age increases the likelihood of developing an addiction. Some persons may be more prone to addiction than others.
A 2010 study in the journal Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports noted that research has shown that genetic variables contribute to nicotine dependence, indicating that tobacco addiction can run in families. Genetics “may influence how receptors on the surface of your brain’s nerve cells respond to high doses of nicotine delivered by cigarettes,” according to the Mayo Clinic. This could imply that, due to genetic inheritance, some people are more likely than others to continue smoking once they start. According to American Psychological Association research 2008, “at least half of a person’s predisposition to drug addiction can be connected to genetic factors.”
Even though smoking has several dangers and is thought to be a factor in the deaths of 8 million people annually, including 1.2 million who pass away from exposure to secondhand smoke, tobacco is nevertheless widely available and simple to obtain.
Tobacco addiction happens swiftly, but so do the health advantages once someone stops. The Mayo Clinic claims that after smoking a cigarette, heart rate decreases within 20 minutes, blood levels of the harmful gas carbon monoxide return to normal within 12 hours, and lung function and circulation improve within three months. After a year, the risk of heart attack is cut in half.
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