Nicotine is one of the most highly addictive substances known. When nicotine enters your body, it goes straight to your brain and provides a pleasurable feeling of calm and sometimes even control. Unfortunately, the feeling doesn’t last long and in order to maintain it, the body craves more
Each cigarette smoked increases the likelihood of addiction and makes it harder to quit. But, the good news is that when you quit smoking, the levels of chemicals in your brain drop and your body will have some immediate benefits. But, the bad news is that the body will also react with nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Check out these strategies to help ease the withdrawal symptoms!
It will get easier. Every day without a cigarette is an accomplishment!
From the moment you quit smoking, changes will occur!
Within 8 hours: The level of carbon monoxide in your body will drop and the oxygen level in your blood will increase to normal.
Within 48 hours: Your sense of smell and taste will get better and your chance of having a heart attack will go down.
Within 72 hours: Your breathing will get easier and your lung capacity will increase.
Within 2 weeks to 3 months: Your circulation will improve and your lungs will function 30% better.
Within 6 months: Coughing, sinus congestion, tiredness and shortness of breath will get better.
Within 1 year: Your risk of smoking-related heart attack will go down by 50%.
Within 10 years: Your risk of dying from lung cancer will go down by 50%.
Within 15 years: Your risk of dying from a heart attack will be the same as a person who never smoked.
Is tobacco addictive?
Yes. Once a person begins to smoke, particularly at a young age, the chances of becoming addicted are quite high. People new to smoking quickly develop tolerance to the initial ill effects, and if they enjoy the stimulant and pleasant effects, they may begin to smoke regularly. Those who smoke regularly tend to have a consistent number of cigarettes per day. Canadians who smoke have, on average, about 15 cigarettes per day.
Nicotine addiction involves psychological and physical factors. Psychological factors may include feelings of pleasure and alertness. People who smoke regularly may learn to rely on the effects of nicotine to bring about these feelings. They also develop conditioned signals, or “triggers,” for cigarette use. For example, some people always smoke after a meal, while working at a certain task or while in certain emotional states, such as feeling depressed or anxious. These triggers lead to behaviour patterns, or habits, which can be difficult to change.
Signs of physical dependence include the urge to smoke within minutes of waking, smoking at regular intervals throughout the day, and ranking the first cigarette of the day as the most important.
People who are addicted to nicotine may become tolerant to the desired effects. They may no longer experience pleasure from smoking, but continue smoking due to cravings and to avoid nicotine withdrawal.
Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include irritability, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia and fatigue. These symptoms vanish within a couple of weeks. Some people may be unable to concentrate, and have strong cravings to smoke, for weeks or months after quitting smoking.
What are the long-term effects of using tobacco?
The risk of long-term effects increases with the amount smoked, and the length of time a person smokes. Check out these strategies to ease withdrawal symptoms.
- is the main cause of lung cancer
- increases the risk of cancers of the colon, mouth, throat, pancreas, bladder and cervix
- causes most cases of chronic bronchitis and emphysema
- causes smoker’s cough
- is a major cause of heart disease and stroke
- increases the risk of medical problems for a woman during pregnancy (e.g., miscarriage, bleeding, placenta previa and poor healing) and increases the risk that her baby will be underweight or will die in infancy
- causes osteoporosis (thinning of the bones)
- increases risk of digestive problems
- affects the immune system, making people who smoke more prone to colds, flu and pneumonia
- decreases the amount of vitamin C in the body, which may cause skin wounds to heal less quickly
- can cause the arteries in the legs to become clogged, resulting in poor circulation, leg pain, gangrene and loss of limb.
Many of the risks and dangers of smoking also apply to people who are exposed to second-hand smoke.
Long-term exposure to second-hand smoke:
- has been linked to heart disease and cancer
- (in pregnant women) increases the risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery, and of delivering babies with a low birth weight
- (in young children) has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome, can lead to or worsen respiratory problems such as asthma; also causes middle ear infections.
Use of tobacco products that are not smoked, such as snuff and chewing tobacco, are linked to an increased risk of oral cancers, gingivitis and tooth decay.