Is Tobacco Really Addictive?

Amid the opioid crisis and ongoing concerns about illegal drugs and alcohol, tobacco doesn’t seem to get much attention these days. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, tobacco use is the number one cause of avoidable illness, disability, and death in the United States. Almost 40 million adults in the country still smoke cigarettes, and around 4.7 million students in middle and high school use at least one tobacco product.

Furthermore, every day 1,600 Americans under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette. In addition to regular cigarettes, today’s young people are also drawn to e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. These are easier to obtain, and many people see them as harmless. However, they can lead to nicotine addiction and graduation to smoking. Anyone who uses tobacco can develop an addiction to the nicotine it contains. However, the younger an individual is when they start to smoke, the more likely it is that they will become addicted. You should contact our Asheville rehabilitation experts for help.

Facts About Nicotine Use and Addiction

Addiction is characterized by the compulsive use of a substance even though it is causing harm. Even though tobacco is legal, it can be just as addictive as cocaine or heroin. When you smoke tobacco, nicotine and other chemicals are absorbed into the lungs. They then spread quickly throughout the body.

When nicotine is used in small amounts, it creates pleasurable feelings in the user and distracts them from other feelings. Like other addictive drugs, nicotine causes an increase in dopamine levels in the brain. Because of this, the individual wants to smoke again. Notably, it takes just seconds for nicotine to reach the brain and the effects begin to wear off in minutes. The user may begin to feel on edge.

The absence of nicotine doesn’t typically result in dangerous withdrawal symptoms, but the user gets increasingly uncomfortable. People who have been using nicotine for just a few weeks can experience physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms. In many cases, the discomfort leads them to use again so the unpleasant feelings will go away. This creates a dangerous cycle. As the body gets used to nicotine over time, smokers often need to use more and more tobacco to get the desired effect. This is called tolerance and it can quickly lead to dependence.

Eventually, smoking starts to affect the smoker’s health and relationships. However, they find it impossible to stop smoking. Even though smoking may have damaged their heart or lungs, they will continue to light up. This indicates that the individual has become addicted to nicotine. People who are addicted to nicotine may also give up on social activities that won’t allow for smoking. Addiction to nicotine isn’t due to a lack of willpower. Many people who smoke actually wish they could stop but it’s very difficult to quit.

The Power of a Nicotine Addiction

It is estimated that two-thirds of smokers say they want to quit and around half try to quit every year. However, most people can’t quit without professional help. Not only are smokers physically dependent on nicotine but they rely on it psychologically. Nicotine affects the user’s mood, behavio,r and emotions. If they use tobacco to help them cope with difficult feelings, quitting can be difficult. Also, smokers often link smoking with partying or other social activities, and it can be difficult to break their habit.

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Anger, frustration or impatience
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Chest tightness
  • Problems concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Increased appetite
  • Constipation and gas
  • Cough and sore throat

These symptoms usually start within a few hours and reach their peak in about two to three days. That’s when most of the nicotine is out of the body. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms can last for just a few days or up to several weeks. However, they improve consistently as long as the individual doesn’t smoke again.

Get Help from Asheville Recovery Center

Regardless of how long you’ve been smoking, quitting will have a positive effect on your life. If you’ve previously tried to stop on your own and you weren’t successful, don’t give up. While quitting isn’t easy, you can break free of your addiction. With professional help from people who understand addiction, you can start your recovery journey. You’re more likely to quit for good if you participate in a holistic treatment plan. Our treatment programs ar customized to the needs of each individual. Call the team at Asheville Recovery Center today to learn how you can overcome your addiction and improve your health.

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