Understanding Nicotine Addiction
Understanding the physical and psychological components behind your cigarette cravings is the first step towards defeating them. It’s very important to understand that nicotine addiction is two-fold: the physical addiction that cigarettes have on your body, and the psychological hold the routine of smoking has on your brain. The key to a successful quit is to attack your addiction on both fronts.
How to Curb the Physical Addiction
It’s easy to get addicted to nicotine. When you took your first drag of a cigarette, within 10 seconds the nicotine was in your brain, triggering that happy, euphoric feeling every smoker knows. But as the nicotine wears off, so does that happy feeling; leaving you with the urge to pull out that lighter and have another smoke. It doesn’t take long for this physical reaction to change the chemistry of your brain, and before you know it, you’re addicted – needing more and more nicotine to get the same effect.
Unfortunately, when you make the decision to quit smoking, your cigarette cravings don’t quit with you. So you’ll need to be prepared to go through nicotine withdrawal for the first few weeks of your quit. Thankfully, a nicotine replacement therapy like Nicorette® or NicoDerm® CQ® doubles your chances of quitting. Learn how they can help here.
It may sound tough at first, but just like when you started smoking and you began craving nicotine more and more, when you stick to the decision to quit smoking, you’ll eventually start craving nicotine less and less. Close
How Nicotine Affects Your Brain
Nicotine is a chemical found naturally in tobacco. When you smoke, nicotine is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream. Within 10 seconds of entering your body, nicotine reaches your brain. There, it activates what experts call the “reward pathways” – the parts of your brain that create pleasure sensations. Nicotine also causes the brain to release adrenaline, which gives you a sense of greater energy, including an increase in your heart rate.
But nicotine’s effects fade quickly. That’s why smokers keep on puffing – to maintain the drug’s pleasurable effects.Close
Other Effects of Nicotine
Nicotine can have many effects beyond altering your brain chemistry. Other effects include.
- Decreased appetite
- Increased intestine activity
- Increased saliva production
- Increased blood pressure
- Sweating, nausea, or diarrhea
- Stimulation of memory and alertness.
How to Curb the Psychological Addiction.
You drive to work, you smoke. You find yourself stressed, you smoke. You have a drink with friends, you smoke. Smoking becomes an integral part of many of your daily activities; so much so, that it’s hard to imagine doing any of these things without lighting up.
We call these activities “triggers.” And learning to avoid your triggers can help you in your quit journey. We can help you identify what your triggers are in the section called Identify Your Triggers. Close
Why You Crave More Nicotine
Nicotine withdrawal symptoms may begin within a few hours of the last cigarette, leaving smokers irritable, in a depressed or dysphoric mood, anxious, or hungry. These feelings spark a strong desire for another cigarette that can lead to an ongoing cycle of smoking. It’s no surprise that 76 percent of smokers have their first cigarette within the first 30 minutes of waking, according to a survey of 1,204 smokers conducted by the makers of Nicorette and Nicoderm CQ.
The more you smoke, the more your brain adapts by creating nicotine receptors that trigger the chemical reactions that create that sense of pleasure. Over time, these receptors become more accustomed to having a certain amount of nicotine each day. When your nicotine level falls below this comfort zone, that’s when you may experience cravings. Close
Is Nicotine as Addictive as Other Drugs?
Nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States. Research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as mood and behavior altering drugs such as heroin, cocaine and alcohol. A 1-2 pack per day smoker inhales nicotine as many as 400 times a day. This constant intake of a fast-acting drug eventually produces dependence .