Nicotine addiction is real and hard to give up. Lets start with where nicotine comes from, then we will get onto what effects it has on your body.
Nicotiana Tabacum (tobacco plant) is indigenous to America and has been used for around 2000 years as a medicine and a stimulant. It is a part of the nightshade family, along with red peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes.
Christopher Columbus is thought to have discovered tobacco while exploring the america’s. Smoking pipes and cigars became popular in the 1600’s and was met with divided opinions when it was introduced to Europe. Some seeing it as medicinal while others saw it as toxic and habit-forming. The tobacco industry grew in the 1700’s and exploded in 1880 when the first machine was patented to mass produce cigarettes.
Tobacco was first used as an insecticide in 1763.
In 1828 nicotine was first isolated from the tobacco plant and was identified as a poison.
By the end of the 19th century it was realised that nicotine had harmful effects and laws were passed banning minors from purchasing cigarettes.
Not until 1964 was a study done that linked smoking with heart disease and lung cancer.
In 1994 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offically recognized nicotine as a drug that produced dependency (nicotine addiction), but the FDA wasn’t given control over nicotine regulations until 2009.
Effects of nicotine addiction on the body
- Both a stimulant and a sedative
- The user experiences a kick, which is caused by the adrenal glands being stimulated by nicotine.
- This surge of adrenaline creates an immediate release of glucose, increases the heart rate, breathing increases as does blood pressure.
- Lowers insulin production which slightly increases blood sugar levels.
- The user experiences a pleasurable sensation when dopamine is release in the brain. (Dopamine is a brain chemical that affects emotions, movements and sensations of pleasure and pain.)
- Increased alertness, euphoria and a sensation of being relaxed.
- Studies have shown that nicotine appears to improve memory and concentration.
- Increases levels of beta-endorphin,which reduces anxiety.
How nicotine is processed by the body
Once nicotine is inhaled it quickly enters the bloodstream and crosses the blood-brain barrier and takes only 8-20 seconds to reach the brain. After 2 hours only half of the nicotine has been broken down by the liver. The more nicotine you take in the more tolerant your body will become to it. Most of the nicotine is processed over night as you sleep.
Nicotine products that are chewed, sprayed in the mouth or snorted release greater amounts of nicotine than vaping or smoking.
Nicotine is highly addictive and believed to be as difficult to give up as heroin. For people who have a nicotine addiction and stop suddenly can experience the following symptoms:
- A sense of emptiness
- Lack of concentration
Side effects of nicotine
Nicotine effects most organs and systems throughout the body:
The circulation of blood can be affected by:
- Tendency to clotting
- Atherosclerosis, where plaque forms on artery walls
- Aorta in the heart is enlarged
The brain is effected by:
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Bad dreams
- Possible blood restriction
The stomach and intestinal system:
- Dry mouth
- Peptic ulcers
The heart may experience the following:
- Changes in heart rate and rhythm
- Increased blood pressure
- Diseases and constriction of the coronary artery
- Risk of a stroke is increased
A pregnant woman who smokes risks the development of the child with the following list:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Respiratory difficulties
- Brain development problems
- Behavioural issues
Other side effects of nicotine use are:
- Joint pain
- Tremors and pain in the muscles
- Spasms in the lungs
Nicotine by itself is not classified as a carcinogen or cancer causing.
Medical Treatment of nicotine dependency
There are many ways to remove nicotine from your life, however quitting smoking is not as easy as it sounds. And for those who have never smoked “Just stop smoking” isn’t going to invoke a positive response from someone quitting.
Here are some ways to help you quit smoking.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) Although it doesn’t complete prevent withdrawal symptoms it can double the chances of quitting.
- Nasal sprays
Champix medication is a medication prescribed by a doctor to help reduce cravings and withdrawl symptoms of quitting smoking. It is a 12 week course but it does come with some very serious side effects. (I am baffled why this treatment is used and vaping with nicotine is illegal in Australia, but that’s just my personal opinion.)
- Nightmares or bad dreams
- Feeling tired
- Sleeping problems
- Mood or behavioural changes
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviours
Wanting more information about beginning vaping click here.