Cycle of Addiction
Nicotine is the chemical that makes cigarette smoking addictive. It is just as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Smoking is a habit that is not easily stopped. The body and mind want and need the nicotine. If a person smokes more than five cigarettes a day, he/she is usually addicted.
When people inhale the smoke of cigarettes, the nicotine goes deep into the lungs. From the lungs it goes into the bloodstream and is carried to the heart and then the brain. It only takes six seconds for nicotine to reach the brain.
How Cigarettes Addict
Lungs quickly absorb nicotine and other chemicals, which go directly to the heart, then the brain. As a reslut, smoking delivers drugs to the brain much faster than other modes of delivery, such as injection with a needle.
Credit: Figure 6,Tobacco: Biology & Politics, HEALTH EDCO, Waco, Texas.
Nicotine is a stimulant. It speeds things up. It makes the heart beat faster and increases blood pressure. It makes smokers feel more alert or awake. After about 45 minutes when the level of nicotine in the blood goes down, they start to feel withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is the feeling they have when the nicotine is taken away. They may feel tired and irritable (angry, impatient, nervous).
Smokers slowly increase the number of cigarettes they smoke to prevent the bad feelings of withdrawal. They keep increasing the number of cigarettes until they reach a certain level of nicotine in their blood. Usually they will light
up a cigarette before they start to feel any withdrawal symptoms. People smoking low tar and nicotine cigarettes will have to smoke more cigarettes to reach their maintenance level.
After sleeping, the level of nicotine in the blood is lower than it is during the day. Therefore, heavy smokers will usually begin their day with a cigarette very soon after waking up. The nicotine will stimulate them and make them feel
awake. A person can tell how addicted he/she is to smoking by how soon after waking, he/she lights up the first cigarette of the day.