How does Smoking Affect Your Brain?
Cigarettes are addictive in nature because of the effect they have on the brain of a smoker. Nicotine, present in the cigarettes, travel to the brain within 8 seconds of the first inhalation.
Since a nicotine molecule is shaped similar to a neurotransmitter, it gets lodged onto the brain receptors and activates areas of the brain involved in producing feelings of pleasure and reward. This is how the addiction starts.
With time the brain develops a resistance for the nicotine levels by reducing the number of receptors. So the smoker feels the need to up his quota of cigarettes to feel the same level of pleasure. People who start out initially with 2 cigarettes a day end up with a pack a day within a year’s time due to this addictive pattern caused by nicotine.
What can smoking do to your brain?Here are a few effects that smoking has on your brain:
Smoking reduces your IQ – Several researches have been conducted using a sample space of adults and teenagers, to determine that smoking cigarettes does reduce the IQ level on an individual. If you are a smoker, you would have realized that your capacity to work with analytical problems reduces after smoking. This reduction in mental capacity is attributed to the reduced oxygen supply to the brain and increased presence of carbon mono-oxide in the hemoglobin.
Smoking induces lack of concentration – The reduced oxygen supply to the brain also causes fatigue to creep in. It’s a common myth to believe that smoking enhances your ability to focus – the truth is quite the opposite. A smoker is bound to feel restless and fidgety due to impure or low oxygenated blood passing through the brain.
Cigarettes reduce your sex drive – It has been proven that smokers have a lower sex drive than normal men. One reason of course is the fatigue that sets into the body due to nervous stimulation caused by nicotine, the second reason is that the areas of brain responsible for sexual stimulation have lower receptors due to nicotine addiction. The brain automatically reduces its normal feel good receptors to guard against the excess of nicotine in the blood stream.
Smoking inhibits the natural “feel good” receptors in your brain – It’s proven by research that smokers are more liable to depressive moods because of the reduction of “feel good” receptors in their brain. The artificial stimulation of the areas of brain that control feelings of pleasure and reward causes the long term effect of reducing the receptors in this region. The symptoms of withdrawal creep in more quickly after each smoke due to the increased resistance developed in the brain.
Chronic smoking can increase your chances of a brain stroke – The presence of nicotine in the blood makes it thicker. Moreover the plague deposits on the arteries increase because of excessive smoking. This causes the arteries to lose their elasticity. The brain depends upon the arteries connecting to the heart for its supply of oxygenated blood. When these arteries lose their elasticity or get blocked due to excess plague deposit, it results in a stroke. The chances of a stroke increase by several multiples in a chronic smoker.
Excessive Smoking is linked to brain shrinkage – It has been found that in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis the chances of brain shrinkage and lesions increases while smoking. Brain injury is caused by the breakdown of barrier between the brain and blood vessels. Studies have also revealed that smokers tend to develop problems with motor functioning with time, actions like walking or talking might get impacted through excessive smoking. Many smokers have experienced fidgety hands and stuttering speech after having smoked a few cigarettes in a short span of time.
As you can see, the effects that smoking has on your brain are quite severe. Teenagers who take to smoking are at a higher risk because their brain is still in the development stage. Most adults who smoke don’t realize the harm cigarettes do to their brain, especially when they don’t indulge in mentally tasking activities, but the damage is being done steadily.