Nicotine is one of the most commonly abused drugs among young and adults. Apart from the easy access to this drug, nicotine is legal and can be used anywhere. The addictive effect of nicotine in the body makes it hard for the user to quit. Regardless of the harmful effects brought by smoking, people still use it on a daily basis.
What is Nicotine?
Nicotine is one among the 5,000 chemical components of a tobacco smoke. This chemical content from tobacco serves as a natural protection that keeps plants away from insects. It also acts directly on the brain when smoked. When this colorless liquid is burned down, it becomes brown and emits a distinct odor when exposed to air. By inhalation, nicotine is absorbed by the skin and mucosal lining of your nose and mouth.
Chain smoking is a sign of addiction to the drug. Smokers are aware of the dangers brought by tobacco smoking. Studies show that there are nearly 35 million smokers who attempted to quit smoking tobacco. Unfortunately, relapses occur in just a matter of days.
Nicotine is capable of activating the part of the brain that regulates the feeling of pleasures. Research studies show that levels of dopamine produced by the system are doubled when a person is smoking. The pharmacokinetic properties found in nicotine can enhance the potential abuse of the drug.
How Does Nicotine Affect the Body?
This by-product of tobacco both acts as a stimulant and a sedative.
1. Nicotine as a Stimulant
After exposing yourself to nicotine, your adrenal glands immediately reacts with the chemical contents of the drug. This reaction will result in the rapid production of epinephrine or commonly known as adrenaline. Adrenaline stimulates your body and causes an immediate release of glucose. When this occurs, your blood pressure, respiratory and heart rates also increase.
Nicotine is also capable of suppressing insulin production from your pancreas. As a result, smokers have higher levels of glucose in the blood.
The controlled pleasure and motivation on using the drug are caused by the release of dopamine in some parts of the brain. This reaction can be compared to the effect of other abused drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
2. Nicotine as a Sedative
While nicotine can be a stimulant for a person, it also has a calming effect. Sedation depends on the user’s nervous system and the amount of nicotine taken.
Beta-endorphin is one of the many hormones released by the brain once nicotine reaches the brain. It’s a hormone that can help reduce anxiety and acts as an anesthetic. This hormone can also help deal with emotional distress. So, this is one reason why nicotine can be considered as a sedative.
3. Nicotine Abuse
Chainsmokers have a difficulty withdrawing the drug from their body. A sudden stop will make them feel uncomfortable and may crave for more.
Several effects of the withdrawal include:
- Sense of emptiness
- Mood swings
According to a report conducted by the Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health (MDPH), companies that produce tobacco have increased the nicotine content of their cigarettes by nearly 10% percent since 1998 to 2004. Cigarettes with higher nicotine content may cause a tolerance build up to smokers. This makes it harder for them to quit the vice.
Risk Factors of Nicotine Abuse
There are some factors why a person smokes and gets addicted to smoking.
Home and peer influences are common factors why a person smokes. Some people who live in an environment of smokers might be influenced to smoke in the long run. Being friends with smokers can also influence a person to smoke.
Curiosity can push a person to try smoking. Movies that feature scenes related to smoking can also be a risk factor. Internet, especially the social media, can encourage young people to pursue smoking tobacco.
Complications of Nicotine Abuse
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), smoking is considered as the leading cause of death in the US. Cigarette smoking accounts for the more than 480,000 deaths per year in the US. This figure means that 1 out of 5 died because of smoking.
Regardless of the dangers and increasing death rates, most people continue smoking. Most cases lead to severe complications.
Some adverse effects of smoking are listed below:
Lung Cancer and Other Respiratory Diseases
Lung cancer continues to be the leading type of cancer that kill most people in the US. People diagnosed with this disease aren’t necessarily smokers. Most people who acquire lung cancer are secondhand smokers.
According to Food and Drug Administration, there are 9 out 10 lung cancer cases in the US. Smoking can also lead to other respiratory diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and severe asthma.
Heart and Circulatory Diseases
Cigarette smoking can cause cardiovascular problems. Regular consumption of cigarettes will increase the possibility of acquiring diseases like high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and heart attacks.
Earlier exposure to smoking habits causes early damage to your abdominal aorta. Excessive smoking can damage your heart and blood vessels in your body.
Secondhand Smoking (SHS)
Secondhand smoking can also risk the lives of many people especially their loved ones. Non-smokers exposed to smoking may acquire the same complications with firsthand users.
The most practical way to prevent yourself from nicotine addiction is to restrict yourself from trying cigarettes in the first place.
Some effective tips to prevent smoking for both young and adults are listed below:
Educating People about Smoking
Having the right knowledge about smoking and its adverse effects on the body is very important. As parents, it’s important to be a role model to your children. Research studies show that children who grow up with non-smokers may try smoking in the future. This problem may arise due to lack of parental guidance.
Discussing these matters with younger people will give them earlier prevention to nicotine addiction than those who know nothing about the risks of smoking.
You can also be a good influence on people if you don’t smoke. Try acquiring a healthy lifestyle rather than giving in to smoking just to fit in.
Promoting Smoke-Free Environments
For non-smokers, smoking can be harmful to their health. Secondhand smoking can be anywhere, and it’s so hard to avoid this situation, especially in public places. Banning cigarette use at home can be a good practice for a smoke-free environment.
Supporting law reformations that would ban smokers at work and public places can lessen the danger brought by smoking.