According to the latest statistics, in a single year, 74,600 deaths and 506,100 hospital admissions were attributable to smoking. Even though the number of smokers across the board is decreasing, it is still a prevalent practice within UK society.
Everyone agrees that smoking is bad for you – long gone are the days of companies being able to advertise their cigarettes without the health warnings and no one can claim ignorance about the damage smoking does. To non-smokers, it seems like such a needless and destructive habit to have.
The reason why people smoke is nicotine
Nicotine is the chemical inside tobacco that keeps smokers reaching for a cigarette time and time again. The legality of cigarettes means that smoking and nicotine addiction will remain a problem despite the awareness of the health issues around them. We at Rehab Clinics group are dedicated to preventing nicotine addiction and all other types of substance abuse issues. Through our industry-leading rehabilitation and treatments, we hope to help anyone struggling with nicotine addiction.
Why is Nicotine Addictive?
Many factors build up together to make nicotine addictive to people that smoke. The chemical nicotine releases hormones in the body called epinephrine and dopamine. These are hormones are also known as neurotransmitters and they transfer messages between neurons, muscles, and glands.
Epinephrine is also known as adrenaline and when you smoke it is released, stimulating the body to cause an increased heart rate, blood pressure and more rapid breathing. This spike in adrenaline creates that buzz you feel when you smoke that makes you feel more alert. Dopamine is what is known as a “feel-good” chemical. This being released in your body helps you feel more pleasure and improves your mood, which may bring a sense of calm and contentedness.
Smoking allows the nicotine to enter your brain and bloodstream quicker than drugs injected and gets around fast so that you feel the effects almost immediately.
The feelings you get from smoking don’t last long however and quickly fade, meaning you keep repeating the process to maintain the benefits. Your body also builds up a tolerance to nicotine quite quickly, forcing you to smoke more cigarettes more often and lock you in a cycle of addiction before you realise it.
With smoking more there is an increased risk of health issues further down the line.
Symptoms of Nicotine Addiction
Several signs may point towards you being addicted to nicotine.
If you are smoking at least 10 cigarettes a day and often get the feeling of needing a cigarette then you are probably addicted. Needing one first thing in the morning can also be an indication and be a sign of a trigger or addiction routine.
Attempting to quit and being unable to indicate a nicotine dependency that is serious enough to be affecting your life. If smoking has begun to affect social situations – perhaps you will only go to places with smoking areas or plan events around smoking – then that is another sign of a serious addiction.
One of the most sure-fire ways to tell is if you have nicotine withdrawal if you stop smoking for a day or two. There are many withdrawal symptoms, both physical and mental, including constipation, headaches, cravings, mental fog, anxiety, and irritability.
Physical Effects of Nicotine Addiction
People that smoke often has a decreased appetite. The serotonin and dopamine that nicotine helps release affect things such as eating and digestion, leading to smokers eating less. This is a reason that some people may gravitate towards smoking if they are feeling conscious about their weight.
People who smoke may develop increased blood pressure and heart rate can lead to vascular and heart problems down the line.
You may have heard of the term “smokers cough”. Some smokers develop a chronic cough that is caused due to airways being damaged by the toxins in cigarette smoke or your body trying to clear out the chemicals in the tobacco. A constant cough may be the sign of something more serious such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema.
Psychological Effects of Nicotine Addiction
The benefits that pull people towards smoking are often more psychological. If you smoke you often feel more relaxed and focussed during and afterwards, reducing your stress levels and feeling more ready to face whatever is coming next.
The psychological side is the side that keeps you coming back. Becoming dependant on the psychological effects and the habit and comfort of smoking is the hardest thing to break from. Smoking is a quick thing to do that doesn’t hurt anyone if done in private, so it’s harder to break out of. A smoking routine, paired with other rituals and activities like drinking a coffee or an alcoholic drink make it hard to separate these things if you intend to quit.
Causes of Nicotine Addiction
There is no simple nicotine addiction timeline you can look back on to decide what caused your addiction. Everyone is different. Some people have more natural addictive personalities that make it easier to start and harder to stop these types of behaviours.
Like drinking and drugs, no one goes into smoking wanting to become addicted. The causes behind smoking can be as simple as you were bored with a friend and wanted something to do for ten minutes. A moment like this though can build into a routine that progresses to nicotine addiction.
As nicotine affects pleasure and happiness many people who are depressed smoke as they feel it helps improve their mood. It also offers a respite from the world. Smoking can be a social thing and nicotine addiction be fostered over countless hours spent in pub smoking areas with friends and peers.
If you have grown up around parents smoking you may be more likely to smoke, simply following behaviour you have seen. People who started smoking early in their teens are much more likely to become addicted.
How to Quit Nicotine Addiction
Despite nicotine being one of the more widespread drugs people are addicted to, you don’t hear many stories about people entering rehab to undergo treatment for nicotine addiction. People often turn towards the plethora of items you can buy off the shelves such as nicotine patches and gum to stop smoking.
You might need more help than this.
Nicotine addiction rehab exists and is effective for breaking out of nicotine addiction. You will undergo detox that will hopefully stick as you can’t easily access cigarettes and take part in therapy that will help you cope with and understand your triggers and the thought processes that lead you to smoke.
No one said getting away from nicotine addiction would be easier but doing so will lead you to a happier and healthier lifestyle. For more information on the types of addiction we deal with at Rehab Clinics Group and our industry-leading residential addiction treatment get in touch at 0800 470 0382 or text HELP to 83222.