In this lesson, you will learn about why it is that smoking is so addictive and what the short-term consequences of tobacco use will result in. You will also find out how nicotine plays an important role in all of this.
Smoking and Addiction
I've often heard from many people who smoke quite a bit that they aren't addicted and can quit at any time. But they don't quit despite knowing all of the ill-effects they're suffering from - and that's the point. The addictive effects of smoking are sometimes very insidious and lead one to believe they are in control when they are actually not. This lesson will focus on why smoking is so addicting and what the short-term consequences of smoking are.
The reason people become addicted to smoking is nicotine. Nicotine is a psychoactive drug responsible for the addictive effects of tobacco products. Even a few cigarettes and just a few days of smoking can cause a person to become addicted to it. Similar to how you may enjoy the taste of something sweet like ice cream and crave more later, your body becomes addicted to nicotine like your taste buds do to a good scoop of ice cream.
But the more in-depth reason nicotine is so addictive is because it affects the person's nervous system. This is the part of the human body that includes the nerves, spinal cord, and brain. The nervous system releases very powerful chemical messengers, such as epinephrine, dopamine, and norepinephrine, as a result of nicotine.
Some of these messengers tell the body to relax in stressful situations, obviously making a person feel better by calming them down. This helps to explain why many people under stress at work or in life turn to smoking - it's because it calms them down. In other circumstances, these messengers help to improve a person's concentration and mental alertness.
In any case, the addictive effect of nicotine is so powerful that, on average, most regular tobacco users cannot go more than an hour without an urge for more of their product of choice, be it a cigarette or chewing tobacco. If they do not get their urge satisfied, they become irritable and less able to concentrate on a task at hand. Thus, they have given up their entire independence and self-control to a drug, and that is very sad indeed.
With that last statement in mind you'd think that I was talking about a sad case of a heroin addict and that I'm being a little bit extreme when it comes down to tobacco products. But many experts believe that nicotine is one of the, if not the most, physically addictive psychoactive drugs on the planet.
Short-Term Effects of Tobacco Use
As I mentioned before, it's important to note that addiction to tobacco products can occur shortly after a person begins using them. But the addiction itself isn't the only thing that people experience in the short-term as a result of something like smoking. In the beginning, smokers may experience any combination of:
- Cold, clammy skin
- A rapid pulse
These are signs of a mild form of nicotine poisoning. You heard that right. If you didn't know it already, nicotine is a drug and it can poison you. Of course, these effects depend on the person's genetics, body type, and how much nicotine they have ingested. Like I said before, depending on how much is taken in, everything from an excited and concentrated to a calm and relaxed state may occur as a result of nicotine ingestion. Other things that can occur shortly after ingestion of nicotine-containing tobacco products include:
- A decreased appetite
- A decreased sensation of taste
- Inhibition of the formation of urine
- An elevated blood pressure, a.k.a. hypertension. You can remember this because if you've ever met a 'hyper' person, then they are probably highly excited. Their high levels of excitement and energy are like the high levels of blood pressure that hypertension defines.
Hypertension or many of these effects may not seem all that concerning to you, but I beg to differ, since they're just the very beginning and tip of the iceberg of the problems that smoking causes, as a lesson on smoking's long-term effects will point out to you.
People become addicted to tobacco use because tobacco products, such as cigarettes, contain nicotine. This is a psychoactive drug responsible for the addictive effects of tobacco products. Nicotine affects the person's nervous system. This is the part of the human body that includes the nerves, spinal cord, and brain. The nervous system releases very powerful chemical messengers, such as epinephrine, dopamine, and norepinephrine that may result in everything from increased alertness and concentration to a relaxed and calm state.
While having a relaxed and calm state of mind is something many people seek out, you mustn't forget that smoking can lead to some unpleasant things in the short-term, including hypertension, or elevated blood pressure, vomiting, nausea, dizziness, and more. Also, these are just the short-term effects of tobacco use.
After this lesson is done, you should be able to:
- Explain the addictive nature of tobacco use
- Identify the poison nicotine and the symptoms of early addiction it causes
- Describe the short term effects of tobacco products