Why Is Cigarette Smoking Addictive?

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I am sure most of you remember you first smoking experience, I mean the first time you actually inhaled the smoke into your lungs. The first time I inhaled, during my high school years, I was quite drunk but I still remember the high I felt. I started with Marlboro strong (Red) and it was my brand of choice till the day I quit. It felt great to get that adrenaline pump, the sudden stimulation almost like a jolt and a sense of relaxation which was a little mind numbing. This is what I felt with my first smoke; I did not cough it out or anything like most beginners, it was great. The reason why it felt so great was because my depressed nerves (alcohol is a depressant) got a shot of stimulation from the nicotine present in the cigarette. Nicotine is a strong stimulant.

Stimulating effect of smoking

The combination of imbibing a depressant like alcohol and puff on a stimulant like cigarette is very enjoyable but of course it’s at the cost of the circus that nicotine plays with your nerves. Though it gives a lot of pleasure the fact is that it’s bad for your nerves. I always ended up getting a better experience of pleasure when I smoked while drinking. When I smoked sober it felt good but did not match up to the former level.

After the first few puffs a smoker would feel:

  • A sudden increase in the heart beat
  • A slight tingling effect in the brain (if you notice carefully)
  • A sense of well being or relaxation
  • A feeling of numbness for sometime
  • A feeling of blood draining for your legs (if you notice carefully)
  • A feeling of tightening in your arms
  • A sudden rush of blood to your brain
  • A feeling of euphoria (if you are already a little excited)

Sensations are addictive

These are sensations which result in a pleasurable experience. People who start out smoking get back to lighting up just to experience this feeling; they are not addicted but just feel like experiencing the sensation. Once a person is hooked or becomes a habitual smoker he/she reaches out for a cigarette almost involuntarily; these sensation are not felt so strongly. For a habitual smoker the first cigarette he smokes, usually first thing after getting up in the morning, is the most pleasurable one. Nicotine is the chemical which gives you this sensation. Depending upon the brand you smoke nicotine content may be low or high in the tobacco used. Strong cigarettes have higher nicotine content and induce an immediate sensation, several smokers smoke strong for this very reason.

The criming chemical: nicotine

Nicotine is one of the thousand or so chemicals present in tobacco. It is primarily responsible for the sensations produced by tobacco consumed in any form. The reason for the potency of nicotine lies in the fact that it can easily diffuse into the blood stream via your skin membrane, mucous membrane (in your nose) or through lungs. Once it enters the blood stream it reaches the brain almost instantly. The effect it has on the nerves of the brain leads to all the sensational feelings you experience while smoking. From there it traverses via blood to different parts of the body and is finally filtered out of the blood by the liver.

Nicotine and the blood stream

The quickest way known to inject nicotine into your blood stream is via inhaling tobacco smoke. When the smoke enters your body, the air sacs present in the lungs, accomodate the gases by puffing out and providing a larger surface area for the gas to mix with the blood . The primary function of the air sacs is to ensure gas exchange, basically it is supposed to diffuse oxygen and other chemicals present in the air you breath into the bloodstream. So when you inhale cigarette smoke the 4000 or so chemicals, 43 of them proven cancer inducing agents, have access to your blood stream. Nicotine, being one of the chemicals, enters your bloodstream via the lungs. This blood is then pumped by the heart to your brain and hence nicotine reaches your brain, the spot where it does its magic. It usually takes only 10-15 seconds for nicotine to show its magic when induced via smoking. Once your brain gets used to the magic it gets addicted. With time the brain finds it difficult to live without experiencing the sensations of nicotine, hence the withdrawal pains. The nicotine thus claims its victim. It usually takes only a few months for a person to get addicted to the nicotine effects.

Figthing your own brain is not easy

Your brain becomes your enemy, this is the sole reason why addiction is so difficult to quit. Your brain can easily trick you into indulging in the addiction by playing mind games, you will be surprised at the excuses it can come up with just to have a puff. To fight against your own brain is the toughest battle you will encounter, the only way to win the battle is to realize “you are not your mind”. More on this topic will be discussed in the further articles. If you become totally related with your mind it’s impossible to quit. Moments like a death threatening situation jolts you out of your association with your addicted mind, after that you become free of its tricks. Smoking is a tough addiction to break if you live in your mind, but it’s far easier to quit smoking than to break a addiction with narcotics like cocaine or heroin. For your information tobacco is a drug just like cocaine. Tobacco is a drug which is legally available to the masses, by no means does it become less potent than any addictive agent and can have the same ruination effects as any other narcotic.

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