Addiction

07 September 2010

Nicotine

Nicotine changes how your body and brain function. It both invigorates and relaxes smokers, depending on how much they smoke. There are almost no benefits to nicotine.

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Nicotine changes how your body and brain function. It both invigorates and relaxes smokers, depending on how much they smoke. There are almost no benefits to nicotine, whereas there are many disadvantages. The most dramatic of these include cancer, emphysema, heart disease and stroke.

Appearance and use in South Africa
Nicotine is the most widely abused substance in South Africa after alcohol. Most smokers smoke cigarettes, far fewer smoke pipes and. Some people chew tobacco, according to the Medical Research Council (MRC).

For thousands of years people have smoked or chewed the leaves of the tobacco plant. It is only fairly recently, though that the connection between ill health and smoking has been made.

All nicotine products now carry warnings, cannot be sold to people below the age of 18 and in South Africa tobacco advertising has been severely curtailed. Smoking in all public buildings has become illegal and restaurants are required by law to have separate smoking sections that are properly walled off from the rest of the establishment.

Effects of nicotine
Nicotine is a naturally occurring liquid alkaloid. The tobacco plant contains nicotine which makes up between three and ten percent of the total weight of the plant. About one milligram of nicotine is absorbed by smoking a single cigarette.

Nicotine readily diffuses through your skin, your lungs and your mucous membranes. Once in your bloodstream, nicotine travels almost immediately to your brain. It takes about 10 seconds for the smoker to feel nicotine’s effects, which are short-lived – from about forty minutes to a few hours.

Nicotine changes how your body and brain function. It both invigorates and relaxes smokers, depending on how much they smoke. Nicotine causes the rapid release of adrenaline, which in turn causes rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, rapid, shallow breathing and increased glucose levels in your blood. It also increases your base metabolic rate, which partially explains why some people pick up weight when they stop smoking.

The neurotransmitter dopamine is released in the reward pathways of your brain. Cocaine has the same effect. Nicotine also makes the brain release more endorphins, the feel-good hormones.

The symptoms of excessive smoking
There are almost no benefits to nicotine, whereas there are many disadvantages. The most dramatic of these include cancer, emphysema, heart disease and stroke.

Many of these are caused by other chemicals in cigarette smoke. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and a smoker becomes addicted very quickly. It is a highly toxic poison that is also sold as a pesticide. Sixty milligrams of nicotine will kill an adult.

Nicotine poisoning causes vomiting and nausea, headaches, difficulty breathing, stomach pains and seizures.

Nicotine withdrawal
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that is used compulsively. Withdrawal from nicotine is both a physiological and a psychological.

Once the body is accustomed to its nicotine fix, it changes the way it operates, compensating for the effects of the nicotine. Once you stop, the body still continues functioning in this manner, which is why the withdrawal symptoms are so unpleasant. Extreme irritability, depression, anxiety and a craving for nicotine lasts for about a month, which is why, on average only about ten percent of smokers manage to kick the habit.

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