Smoking can be a highly addictive and destructive habit. An addiction to smoking can cause or influence a variety of health problems ranging from hypertension to lung cancer. Despite the health risks, though, some addicts smoke up to five packs of cigarettes per day.
How do People become Addicted to Smoking?
The primary addicting ingredient in tobacco is nicotine. Nicotine is a substance that can speed up the central nervous system, and it often triggers the release of the hormone dopamine into the brain. Dopamine is a hormone linked to feelings of relaxation and pleasure, so smoking addicts may feel a boost in mood when they smoke. Soon after finishing a cigarette, the brain begins to readjust from the dopamine boost. The central nervous system often slows down significantly during this time as well, and a smoker may experience a mood crash. Smokers often begin to crave additional cigarettes to reverse these negative effects. Eventually, the feelings associated with nicotine become the norm for the brain and nervous system, and smokers begin to feel agitated and depressed if they cannot smoke. Once this effect sets in, the person is officially addicted to smoking.
Symptoms of a Smoking Addiction
Signs that a person is addicted to smoking are very apparent. If someone is found to be smoking a pack or more of cigarettes per day, that person is likely addicted to smoking. Additionally, experiencing overwhelming feelings of stress or depression in between cigarettes is a sign of addiction. Another indication of a smoking addiction may be that a person buys cigarettes regardless of current funds or costly, upcoming bills.
Help Available for Smoking Addicts
Quitting smoking through the cold turkey method often produces withdrawals that can be very difficult. Luckily, there are a number of ways people can gradually subdue their smoking addictions. The most common methods for quitting smoking are nicotine patches and nicotine gum. These items introduce small amounts of nicotine into the bloodstream to curb cigarette cravings throughout the day. Some smoking addicts may be able to switch from tobacco cigarettes to much less harmful electronic cigarettes. There are also programs that provide step-by-step guides on how to gradually reduce the amount of cigarettes smoked each day. For heavy addicts, there are therapy programs, support groups and support hotlines. For some smokers, being able to simply talk about their struggles with other people in similar positions can work wonders. However, many smokers tend to employ a combination of these methods to help them gradually and effectively quit smoking.