Smoking Addiction Explained
Tobacco is one of the most abused substances in the world. It’s estimated that smoking cigarettes kills more than 8 million people annually. People continue to smoke despite knowing how dangerous tobacco is because it’s a highly addictive substance.
People who start smoking at an early age are more likely to develop a smoking addiction. Surveyed teenage smokers reported that many of them want to quit or have thought about quitting but simply can’t.
Second-hand smoke contains both the smoke burning off the cigarette and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. For people living with smokers, the risks of health consequences are high.
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What Makes Smoking Addictive?
Cigarettes contain a chemical called nicotine, which is incredibly addictive. Nicotine changes the balance of two chemicals in the brain called noradrenaline and dopamine. As a person smokes, these chemical changes often elevate an individual’s mood and concentration levels.
The effect of smoking is almost immediate. As soon as someone inhales nicotine, the brain is flooded with the chemical, and the person experiences feelings of pleasure, reduced stress and reduced anxiety. In contrast, when a smoker goes too long without having nicotine, they begin to feel anxious and irritable. The brain becomes addicted to nicotine, which makes it difficult to quit.
Signs and Symptoms of Smoking Addiction
Addiction manifests itself differently in every person. However, there are some common signs and symptoms of smoking addiction. Someone who is addicted to smoking cannot go for very long periods without starting to think about and crave a cigarette. Addicted individuals will experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit. Examples of withdrawal symptoms include shaky hands, a rapid heart rate, sweating and irritability.
Additionally, addicted individuals will also continue to smoke even if they have serious health problems. They also may avoid social events where they must forgo smoking for an extended time.
Health Consequences from Smoking
Most notably, as smokers are inhaling a toxic chemical, they are at a greater risk of developing a respiratory disease. Smokers can develop lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, as well as lung cancer.
Smoking has been tied to increasing the risks of several cancers, such as bladder, blood, cervix, colorectal, oesophagus, kidney, larynx, liver, oropharynx, pancreas, stomach and trachea. A person who has been diagnosed with cancer and continues to smoke is more likely to perish.
Smoking can make it more difficult for women to get pregnant and can affect men’s sperm counts. And, smoking increases the risk of preterm delivery, ectopic pregnancy, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, stillbirths and orofacial clefts in infants. Additionally, smoking causes issues with oral health, seriously impacting an individual’s gums and teeth. Smoking has also been proven to affect bone health and can even cause rheumatoid arthritis. Overall, smoking decreases an individual’s health, making them weaker to defend themselves against diseases.
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