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Home > Tobacco Use Cessation Program > Didactic Components > Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine Addiction

Drug Addiction Includes the Following:

  • Physiological dependence:
  • Tolerance
  • Dependence
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Psychological dependence:

Smokers continue to smoke for a number of psychological reasons:

  • Stimulation
  • Tension reduction
  • Handling
  • Habit
  • Pleasurable relaxation
  • Craving

  • Sociocultural Factors:
  • Social activity
  • Numerous daily rituals
  • Family origin and cultural practices

Human genetics, early family experiences, environmental factors and societal influences appear to work together in complex ways, to set the addictive cycle in motion.

At times tobacco can act as a stimulant and at other times it may produce tranquilizing effects.


Nicotine combines with a number of neurotransmitters in the brain and may contribute to the following effects:

Dopamine:

Pleasure, suppress appetite

Norepinephrine:

Arousal, suppress appetite

Acetylcholine:

Arousal, cognitive enhancement

Vasopressin:

Memory improvement

Serotonin:

Mood modulation, suppress appetite

Beta-endorphin:

Reduce anxiety / tension


Tobacco is as addictive as heroin (as a mood & behavior altering agent).

  • Nicotine is:
    • 1000 X more potent than alcohol
    • 10-100 X more potent than barbiturates
    • 5-10 X more potent than cocaine or morphine
  • A 1-2 pack per day smoker takes 200-400 hits daily for years. This constant intake of a fast acting drug (which affects mood, concentration & performance).. eventually produces dependence.

Pressures to relapse are both behaviorally & pharmacologically triggered.

Quitting involves a significantly serious psychological loss... a serious life style change.


Possible withdrawal symptoms (after stopping tobacco use):

  • Irritability, anger, hostility, anxiety, nervousness, panic, poor concentration, disorientation, lightheadedness, sleep disturbances, constipation, mouth ulcers, dry mouth, sore throat-gums- or tongue, pain in limbs, sweating, depression, fatigue, fearfulness, sense of loss, craving tobacco, hunger, and coughing (body getting rid of the mucus clogging the lungs).
  • Symptoms may last from a few weeks to several months. After withdrawal subsides... urges for nicotine (for the effects of the drug) occur in response to all kinds of cues to smoke or chew.
 
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