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The Power Of
|If you've ever
tried to quit smoking, then you've come up against the awesome
power of nicotine addiction. If you would like to quit, read on
to learn how nicotine addiction takes hold, and how you can
Altered Brain Chemistry
Nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco, is absorbed into the
bloodstream where it affects brain chemistry. It quickly alters
both mood and focus. Because of the large surface area of the
lungs, smokers receive a big "hit" of nicotine with every puff.
Since nicotine is absorbed directly into the bloodstream, the
brain receives an almost instantaneous dose of pleasure with
every inhalation of smoke.
Nicotine primarily affects the mid-brain, the part of the brain that
controls moods and emotions. It produces pleasurable sensations
while smoking, and anxiety and craving when nicotine is
withheld. Doesn't that sound like a perfect formula for
Because of the immediate stimulation to the brain, smoking behavior is
constantly reinforced. When smokers try to quit, they have to
overcome both the physical addiction to nicotine and the
associations they have made to the behavior. This means breaking
the mental connection between the physical act of picking up,
lighting, and smoking the cigarette, and the pleasurable
sensations it produces.
Besides the physical addiction, there are also strong behavioral and social
reinforcements to smoking. Certain situations (such as
experiencing stress, finishing a meal, or going to a bar) become
so strongly associated with smoking that smokers will
automatically reach for a cigarette without thinking.
However, some people become more addicted to nicotine than others. The
reason for this may be genetic. Some people metabolize nicotine
more slowly, which makes them less likely to become addicted.
There is a particular enzyme present in the liver that breaks
down nicotine. People with a genetic "flaw" in producing the
enzyme are less likely to smoke, and if they do smoke, they
smoke fewer cigarettes than those with the normal enzyme.
There may also be genetic reasons related to behavior that encourage smoking
addiction. Reaction to stress, for example, can be partially
genetically determined -- and stress relief is 1 of the major
reasons people smoke.
Anyone Can Quit
People who are addicted to smoking can take solice in knowing that it is
possible to quit. Although some find it more difficult than
others, there are many resources available to anyone who wants
to give up the habit. Help is available in the form of nicotine
replacement, other medical treatments, group therapy, and
counseling. It is not just the physical addiction to nicotine
that must be overcome. The urge to smoke is driven by many
associations (food, sex, alcohol) that were developed over
years. Those individual habit patterns must also be defeated.
Age Is No Barrier
As with any addictive substance, the longer you have used nicotine, the more
difficult it will be to break free. Young adults who have been
smoking for just a few years will likely find it easier to quit
than a middle-aged person with a 20 year habit. On the other
hand, a middle-age smoker is more likely to feel susceptible to
the health risks of smoking, which may create a stronger
motivation to break the habit.
Regardless of age, or number of years of smoking, anyone can quit and regain
the health benefits of being a non-smoker. It is easier now than
ever before with the widespread availablility of addiction aids
and rehab programs. Don't you think it's time for YOU to quit
smoking for good?
About the author:
Ron King is a full-time researcher, writer, and web developer. Visit
http://www.stop-smoking-review.comfor more info.
Copyright 2005 Ron King. This article may be reprinted if the
resource box is left intact.