In the teenage brain smoking creates an increase in the number of nicotine receptor sites. As a consequence, the brain quickly adapts to the presence of nicotine and reacts negatively when there is no nicotine uptake. This means teenagers are more susceptible to addiction – and so the drive to light-up is very powerful. The majority of smokers began smoking in their teens, relied on cigarettes whilst going through high school and/or college or university, and accidentally became fully fledged addicts by the time they reached their 20s. If you are a smoker who started later in life, it was probably because of a friend or a new relationship.
Nicotine has what is known as a ‘biphasic effect’. – This means that it has the ability to both invigorate and relax, depending on the number and regularity of cigarettes smoked. Interestingly, studies indicate that the way a smoker puffs may be linked to their feelings at the time of smoking! – Taking short, fast drags may tend to heighten nicotine’s arousing properties, whereas long, slow drags may be inclined to elevate nicotine’s sedative characteristics.
On average, a cigarette contains 8mg of nicotine and will generate from 0.5mg-2mg (depending on how it is smoked, and if the ventilation holes in the filter are covered). Cigarettes deliver nicotine extremely quickly, and this powerful surge has the force to keep you firmly anchored on “Smokers’ Row”. – Nicotine rapidly zooms through the blood-brain barrier and reaches the tissues in the brain shortly after it is absorbed from a cigarette into the delicate alveoli (air sacs which act as primary gas exchange units) in the lungs – now the feel good factor is back!
– At this point you are relaxed, and may feel a positive link between smoking and another action you are involved in at the time. When the smoke reaches the lungs, the carbon dioxide replaces the oxygen in the bloodstream. -This generates a sensation of light-headedness and mild spasm all over the body. Lack of oxygen makes the heart beat faster and blood pressure escalate, as the body tries to compensate for the missing oxygen. Once the high has worn off (after 40 minutes or so when most of the nicotine has passed from the brain to the other organs), the body demands another hit.
– Now this is where the addiction has you on a guillotine. – Physical and mental tension, unease and agitation set in from all angles as your entire being cries out for restoration and balance. – The smoking cycle produces a permanent stress cycle as one cigarette merely ‘restrains’ the stress that the last one caused. Addiction to smoking at regular intervals and in certain situations and places runs like clockwork for regular smokers. And a personalized style to the way a cigarette is held, puffed and wafted in the air, is a facet of the enjoyment, social interaction and addiction.
‘I CAN’T GET NO-O SATISFACTION’!
The Rolling Stones, 1965
Back in Mick Jaggar and company’s hayday, smokers did not seem to know they were being controlled by their habit. – But just like any addictive substance, you become more and more addicted, your tolerance level increases, and you need to smoke more to achieve the same effect, or to negate the withdrawal symptoms. And you only really think you like the taste because of the addiction. – Just think how a cigarette tasted when you lit up for the very first time!
The first cigarette of the day which often and very detrimentally replaces breakfast, receives an enthusiastic response from the nerve cells in the brain which react to the first nicotine rush of the day. (Yahoo readers, who can successfully cut out this first cigarette of the day, will be quicker and far more likely to succeed in total cessation).
During the first few cigarettes of the day nicotine increases the activity of the ‘feel good’ chemical messenger dopamine. – It gives the body some za-za-zoom, and leaves the smoker with a euphoric sensation of feeling ‘up’. – However, what goes up must come down, and the high is followed by an inevitable rebounding ‘low’. As the day moves on, the flow of nicotine does not have the same effect. – This is because the nerve cells begin to become de-sensitized. – Now the cigarettes generate less of a high, and smokers need to heavily re-boot as they are compelled to puff away even more!
During my quest for a quit smoking protocol, I considered incarcerated smokers who have spent years in jails in certain countries around the world, where cigarettes are not available. – When they were admitted they suffered the pangs and despair, but lived without cigarettes because they had no choice. So I would give you the advice I give to all the would-be quitters who just believe it is completely impossible – think of those prisoners – whatever their genetic profile, biological, biochemical, physiological and psychological condition, whatever their background and life experiences were, and how ever many nicotinic receptors, misrouted and unbalanced chemical pathways and disrupted hormones they had – they had to, and did quit.- Always keep them in your mind.
And as for non-prisoners, data from the American Lung Association, Ref: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Stastics, National Health Survey Raw Data, 2009, (online): http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/about-smoking/health-effects/smoking.html shows estimations that in 2009, 49.9 million adults were former smokers. – Of course it was much harder for them because they had 24/7 cigarette access – so keep them in your mind as well!
Drug addicts, alcoholics, and cigarette and tobacco addicts have walked away from their habit. – Determination to keep on trucking and striving for our goals and aims, trying to do thing better the next time, and learning from our mistakes and where the pitfalls lie, are all part of the natural progression of our lives. – Now is the time to quit and to throw your anchor to a far, far better place!
This is an excerpt from the international book “The Winning Way to Quit Smoking” by Shirley Amy BSc., Amazon Createspace, 2012