The Physiological Basis of Nicotine Addiction

The physiological basis of nicotine addiction is found in the body's physical reaction to nicotine. When you smoke the nicotine triggers the "pleasure center" of your brain. A hit of nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands that cause the release of adrenaline. This adrenaline arouses the body and causes a release of glucose, as well as increasing respiration, blood pressure, and heart rate.

The average smoker takes about 10 puffs or hits on every cigarette, and nicotine levels in the brain max out within 10 seconds of inhaling. Since the satisfaction you get from smoking lasts only a few minutes, you will soon crave another cigarette or start to feel the side effects of nicotine addiction.

Nicotine Addiction Cycle

The physiological basis of nicotine addiction is similar to that of heroin and cocaine. Nicotine causes the release of dopamine in the part of the brain that controls pleasure and motivation. There is a similar effect caused by cocaine and heroin and is thought to bring about the gratifying sensations reported by many smokers. This pleasurable response to smoking is one of the reasons why it is difficult to quit smoking cold turkey or otherwise, or while you get treatment for nicotine addiction.

Many people say that smoking gives them energy or relaxes them - this is another aspect of the physiological basis of nicotine addiction. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, nicotine does both - it acts as both a stimulant and/or a sedative depending on the dose and the smoker's history of tobacco use.

Repeated exposure to nicotine and its pleasurable results causes you to gain a tolerance for the drug, making you need to increase your dose. This is similar to those who become dependent on alcohol - the more they drink, the more they need to keep drinking in order to feel the "high" that alcohol brings.

All of these findings and more are how the physiological basis for nicotine addiction has been established. There is also a psychological basis of nicotine addiction, which may help you better understand nicotine and how it affects your body.

Nicotine Addiction Withdrawal

One of the many unfortunate aspects of nicotine addiction, especially the physiological side of nicotine addiction, is the withdrawal symptoms. When you stop smoking you may feel agitated and have bouts of depression and difficulty concentrating or sleeping. You may also suffer from headaches.

Herbal stop smoking products contain herbs to relieve nicotine addiction withdrawal symptoms, such as "quitter's flu." Learn more about stop smoking herbs.

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