Health Effects of Tobacco

Nicotine: It’s why smoking is so addictive

What is nicotine?

Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical found in cigarettes, chewing tobacco and vaping products. Nicotine is the main reason why it is so hard to quit smoking.

Why is nicotine so addictive?

After nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream, it makes its way to the brain. Within seconds of inhaling cigarette smoke or vape mist, or using chewing tobacco, nicotine causes the release of dopamine in the brain, which gives people a good feeling. Over time, the brain begins to crave that feeling from nicotine and people need to use more and more tobacco to get that same good feeling.

Nicotine can also give some users a surge of energy or focus, because nicotine reacts with the adrenal glands to release adrenaline into the body.

How to recognize nicotine addiction

Here are some signs to look for if you think you might have an addiction to nicotine:

  • You feel grumpy, anxious, or easily angered if you stop using tobacco.
  • You have trouble controlling when, where and how often you smoke.
  • You think about using tobacco (you crave a cigarette) many times a day.

What are the health risks of nicotine addiction?

Many health issues come from long-term nicotine use, ranging from poorer blood circulation and heart problems to digestive system issues. Pregnant women who smoke also put their baby at risk of developing serious health problems during the pregnancy and later on in life.

Nicotine can harm a teenager’s memory and ability to concentrate, as well as alter their brain development and lessen their ability to control their impulses.

Many health issues from nicotine use are also linked to the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, chewing tobacco and vaping products. Some of these chemicals can cause cancer and other serious health problems.

How can I stop using nicotine?

If you have tried to quit using tobacco before, don’t get down about it. Kicking a nicotine habit is one of the hardest things to do. Luckily, there are many products and therapies that can help you.

A variety of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products, in the form of gums, patches, lozenges and sprays, can replace the nicotine that smokers crave. These products can also get rid of the physical withdrawal symptoms most people have when they try to quit.