Why is Smoking Addictive?
There is no doubt about it: Smoking kills. One of the best ways to live a longer, healthier life is to stop smoking. This however, has proven to be one of the hardest things for smokers to do. It is hard for smokers to quit because they are addicted to nicotine. Nicotine is a powerful, highly addictive drug found in tobacco that is considered to be as addictive as heroine and cocaine.
But, nicotine is not the only harmful drug found in tobacco. There are over 4000 toxic chemicals and gases that are toxic and addictive, including arsenic, methane, ammonia, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. The smoker becomes physically and psychologically dependent on the nicotine and other chemicals and this is what sets up the ever increasing addiction. When smoke is inhaled, these chemicals enter the bloodstream via your lungs and move throughout the body.
Nicotine also acts as a stimulant, increasing your heart rate and producing pleasant, satisfying feelings making you want to smoke more. The health and wellbeing of others are also affected when you smoke around them. Second-hand smoke is just as dangerous as active smoking, and that is why smoking in public has been prohibited.
Dangers of Smoking
Smoking is responsible for serious medical conditions such as lung cancer, bladder cancer, heart disease, systemic organ damage, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis to mention just a few. It also causes premature wrinkles, bad breath stained teeth, fertility problems, low energy levels, and places you at a greater risk of illnesses like colds and flu.
Women who smoke during pregnancy stand a greater chance of having a miscarriage or a low birth-weight baby. There are also implications if you smoke while breastfeeding, as nicotine is passed through the breast milk to the baby. If you are over the age of 35, smoke and use birth control pills, you have a much higher risk of having a stroke or a heart attack.
Help to Stop Smoking
Kicking the habit and stopping smoking is extremely difficult and requires willpower, determination and support. Once you have made the decision that you want to stop smoking, there are various treatment options available to assist you such as:
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) which is available over-the-counter or by prescription in the form of nicotine patches, gum, microtabs, lozenges, inhaler, nasal spray or inhalators
- Prescription medication such as Zyban and Champix which are variations of antidepressant drugs prescribed to help people stop smoking
- Laser therapy treatment