This Article is About
nicotine addiction
natural pesticide
tobacco leaves
increased metabolism
tobacco plants
tobacco plant
smoking cigarettes
cold turkey
tobacco products
What Is Nicotine Addiction?
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What Is Nicotine Addiction?

Today's thought-provoking topic is nicotine. Do you really know what it is, or how nicotine addiction happens? Have you ever thought about why some people can quit smoking cigarettes or pipes cold turkey, while others can't? Many people think they know what nicotine is, but there are a lot of rumors and misinformation out there. My goal is to break through some of those rumors, so that you can make a better decision about your health based on the real facts.

What is nicotine, anyway?

Nicotine is a natural pesticide produced by the tobacco plant in order to kill or repel potential predators, such as insects, deer, and fungus. When an animal eats a tobacco leaf or two, it either gets sick and often throws up, or it dies. Either way, the predator stops munching on the tobacco plant. It then gets to survive long enough to make some cute little baby tobacco plants. The blunt and complete truth about nicotine is that it's a toxin, and as such, has the ability to make you very sick, or kill you in large enough doses. You should consider this when deciding what tobacco products you should consume, if any.

What does it do to the body?

When nicotine is consumed, either by smoking dried tobacco leaves, or by inhaling vapor from an e-cigarette, your body's neurochemistry is affected. The most interesting changes to your body include:

  • A change in mood. This can result in either a more relaxed state, or you may feel more awake and/or alert depending on various factors, including how much nicotine has been consumed.
  • Increased heart and breathing rates.
  • Increased blood pressure.

There are some pros and cons to consider here. The most obvious negative effect of nicotine consumption is that it increases heart rate and blood pressure, which is a recipe for disaster if you are already at risk for a heart attack or stroke. On the flip side, some studies indicate that an increased metabolism can help people burn fat and lose weight. There are safer and probably more effective ways to achieve that, however.

One weird thing about nicotine is that its effects seem to change with dosage. At lower levels, many people feel more alert or "buzzed." At high levels, studies show that it has a calming, or even pain-killing effect on the brain. Consume even more of this natural pesticide, however, and it can eventually kill you. That said, the chemical does have some potential health benefits for certain people.

Potential benefits of nicotine

Some studies have suggested that nicotine can help reduce some common disorders like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) because it helps rebalance certain neurotransmitters. There's also evidence that nicotine users are less likely to develop certain types of cancers, such as breast cancer. Information on this can be found on both Wikipedia and PubMed. More studies need to be done before we have solid proof of these benefits, however. There's also the potential risk of nicotine addiction as well.

Nicotine addiction

Frequent use of tobacco or e-cigarette products can lead to dependency. Nicotine stimulates the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, which trigger a so-called "pleasure response." This means that over time, your brain can be trained to associate smoking with positive feelings. The more this happens, the more you may want to smoke. This can cost you a lot both in terms of money and in terms of damage to your health. This is especially true in the case of traditional tobacco products (cigarettes and pipe tobacco). A good quality e-cigarette will have far fewer additional chemicals. This may reduce the risk of nicotine addiction vs traditional cigarettes.

Hopefully this article was useful, and provided you with some objective information about nicotine addiction and what nicotine actually is. Knowledge is power, and with that knowledge, you can make better decisions about your health. I don't endorse the use of nicotine or tobacco products, but I do believe that you should have access to some resources to help you decide for yourself what's best. Also please note that I am not a trained medical physician, so please talk to someone who is if you want more authoritative information.


Street Talk

Great article on nicotine Andrew. Could not have written a better one Thanks for sharing -:)

Reply
  about 6 years ago
Lemuel  

Well-researched article, good job Andrew. I think nicotine can do more harm than good. I have friends who'd like to quit smoking but can't because of addiction. What I observed in people who smoke is that it greatly reduce their strength. I have former teammates in soccer who were removed from the team because their stamina couldn't keep up with the training because of too much smoking.

Reply
  about 8 years ago
  

The same thing can happen (though to a lesser extent) with people who smoke other things, such as pot. Any time you're inhaling smoke on a regular basis, the cilia in your lungs and trachea are going to get singed, which can lead to mucus build-up. You also get tar build-up, especially in the case of tobacco, which coats the inside of your lungs, making it harder for them to absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Did your team mates ever clean up their acts? I think it would be pretty embarrassing getting booted like that! What I'm really trying to do with this article is help people realize that there's more to smoking than simply one compound (nicotine). Many people (even some other authors on this site) forget to consider all the chemicals that are present in some tobacco products (especially cigarettes and chewing tobacco). They blame all the negative side effects on nicotine, while many chemicals are to blame. Moral of the story? Know what's in something before you consume it!

Reply
  about 8 years ago
Lemuel  

Yeah, healthy lungs are vital for a strong body. Probably a player would only try smoking and put to risk his being a member of the team when his enthusiasm to play is already fading. It usually happens when one grows older passed his prime. Once a player reaches age 30, he's already getting old for soccer. Once replaced, there's slim to no chance of coming back.

  
  about 8 years ago

This was interesting Andrew. I agree with Cynthia. It's bizarre but perhaps most 'addictions' are if we stop to think about them. I have heard that people become addicted to breathing rather than the nicotine because inhaling the substance causes them to breathe deeper to get enough oxygen. When they quit they no longer have this 'tool' and crave the 'breath' the cigarette provides. I don't know if this is true?! Someone more educated will have to enlighten me. Cynthia my dear, the 'diet' is more toxic than the 'sugar'. If you do have to coke for goodness sake drink the 'real' stuff! ;-)

Reply
  about 8 years ago
  

I think you're onto something there, Heather. There seem to be multiple reasons why someone might be addicted to smoking. For some people, it's a chemical dependency on nicotine or some other chemical in the tobacco. Mainstream commercial cigarettes are the worst, with dozens of chemicals. Pipe tobacco or roll-your-own cigarette tobacco isn't as bad, as you don't have a lot of the added "junk." Other people do it because they like the smell or flavor of tobacco. My dad smokes periodically for this reason, while someone I work with smokes every day for this reason. Still other people do it because it's an obsessive thing. If it wasn't smoking, it would be something else. For me, I tend to chew gum, especially if I'm commuting or doing something relatively boring for an extended period of time.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Interesting article! Addicting ourselves to a toxic pesticide, natural or not, seems strange. Though with this being day 3 of a cleansing I'm getting together I suppose many of the things I'm stopping are also addictive and toxic. Case in point: today was, "No Diet Coke Day!" and YIKES! Nicotine's supposedly most addictive. I don't know about that. Never smoked. But sure seems like I've got the Diet Coke bug!! As a kid I was amazed at the idea of people spending money for something small that they were simply going to set on fire. At the bus stop waiting for school year after year I watched the neighborhood kids setting their money afire. Bathrooms at school and everywhere. Plus my grandmother smoked and it felt awful to be nearby:-)

Reply
  about 8 years ago
  

I know someone who works as a cop up here in NH, and there's this new trend amongst college students of setting couches on fire. There aren't a *ton* of cows out here to tip, so maybe that's their alternative? Nicotine has been compared to cocaine in its addictiveness, and there are some NIH studies to back that up. I"ve never done crack, so I can't relate, but I do know people who have, so I guess I should ask them.

Reply
  about 8 years ago
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