Nicotine Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

March 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Smoking

Nicotine is known to be one of the factors that comes with smoking cigarettes. Nicotine addiction, however, cannot actually be attributed to nicotine alone. As much of a paradox as this sounds, nicotine isn’t actually addictive. It is what the human body does with nicotine that makes it seem like it suffers from nicotine addiction.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, each smoked cigarette comes with around 1.2 – 2.9 mg of nicotine each. Naturally, cigarette smoking does not entail a single cigarette smoked daily. On average, cigarette smokers consume a pack daily; that’s 20-40 mg of nicotine. And although this may still not sound like a lot, the effects of smoking that much do make an impact.

Nicotine awakens the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland located in the human brain. These areas hold an essential role within the endocrine system, which regulates the body’s hormones. Even the smallest dose of nicotine can wake a person up, so smoking cigarettes actually acts as a stimulant. Bigger doses of nicotine, however brings out the opposite effects of smoking and acts like a sedative. So the reason that smoking is addictive is because they both stimulate, as well as relax. More effects of smoking can be found here.

Most drugs cannot go through the barrier of blood and brain because this system only very selectively lets certain molecules enter the brain. Nicotine manages to do so; and by doing so, it raises the endorphin level, that consists of the ‘happy’ compounds.

Nicotine also tends to affect the amount of dopamine available in the brain, which is in charge of the positive feelings that come with smoking. Unfortunately, it cannot send a charge of negative feelings of how harmful smoking actually is. Additionally, nicotine releases adrenaline through the stimulation of the adrenal glands. This then heightens the body’s glucose levels, as well as the respiration, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Although the latter effects of smoking just mentioned may seem like desirable ones, it may result in wearing the arteries too quickly than required and making them less effective at their goals of delivering blood.

Other effects of smoking and nicotine that affect the body include the suppression of releasing insulin from the pancreas, which regulates glucose and could lead to diabetes. Although smoking does not necessarily lead to diabetes, it does heighten the risk thereof.

Quit smoking now and reduce the dosage of nicotine that your body receives. Withdrawal symptoms from nicotine addiction may include undesirable effects, but in the long run, quitting smoking will keep you out of harm’s way for much longer.