Once widespread and even promoted, cigarettes are now blunted and considered harmful. Tobacco and Nicotine addiction is a serious dependency.
Briefly, nicotine dependence (also called tobacco addiction) involves physical and psychological factors that make it difficult to stop using tobacco, even if the person wants to quit.
Nicotine releases a chemical called dopamine in the same regions of the brain as other addictive drugs. It causes mood-altering changes that make the person temporarily feel good. Inhaled smoke delivers nicotine to the brain within 20 seconds. So it makes it very addictive and comparable to opioids, alcohol and cocaine. This “rush” is a major part of the addictive process.
Signs of physical dependence on nicotine include:
- the urge to smoke within 30 minutes of waking
- ranking the first cigarette of the day as the most important
- smoking at regular intervals throughout the day.
When a person stops using tobacco, nicotine levels in the brain drop. This change sets in motion processes that contribute to the cycle of cravings and urges. This sustains the addiction. Conversely, attempts to stop result in withdrawal symptoms in the body. The addict alleviates them by using tobacco again.