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Quitting Smoking And Understanding How Nicotine Affects The Body

By Libby Sustachek

This is the time of year when we make New Year's resolutions. One of the most common New Year's resolutions is to quit smoking. It is important to understand why you are addicted before you start any program. Understanding how nicotine affects the body is the fist step in quitting smoking. The second step is picking the right program for you to help you achieve your goal of becoming a non-smoker.

Nicotine is a type of chemical called an alkaloid. Many plants containing alkaloids are poisonous and produce a bitter taste when eaten. Nicotine is found in cigarettes, but it has other uses as well. Weed killers and insecticides also contain nicotine. Nicotine is extremely potent. A person would die if the nicotine found in 2.5 cigarettes were directly injected into a person's bloodstream.

Nicotine enters the bloodstream through the lungs. It quickly reaches the brain, where it affects certain chemicals that change the way you feel. Eventually the brain becomes dependent on nicotine to control these chemicals that make you feel "normal."

Nicotine is more addictive than heroine is. As smokers become addicted to nicotine, they will develop a tolerance to nicotine- meaning that they need to smoke more cigarettes in order to feel the same effects they did when they first started.

Nicotine can have different effects on people. Some say nicotine relaxes them when they are upset. Others say that it energizes them and raises alertness when they are tired. The affects vary according to each person and how much they have inhaled. Nicotine also causes the heart to beat faster, veins to constrict, blood pressure to rise, and the adrenal glands to pump out adrenaline that raises the metabolism and suppresses hunger.

Nicotine interferes with the transmission of information between the nerve cells. It also affects sections of the brain that regulate pleasurable feelings, called "reward circuits." The neurotransmitter dopamine is one chemical affected by smoking; nicotine raises the level of dopamine in the brain's reward circuits, causing the smoker to experience pleasure. Other chemicals impacted by nicotine are serotonin, which controls mood, norepinephrine, which affects arousal and appetite, and beta-endorphin, which reduces anxiety.

Remember that every year the tobacco companies pour millions of dollars into research to keep you addicted! The time is right to stop smoking and get healthy.

About The Author
Libby Sustacheck has over twenty years of experience in the healthcare field working with such industry giants as Kaiser Permanente and Aetna. She has assisted many organizations with their wellness programs.


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