Is Nicotine highly addictive? Yes. Nicotine is highly addictive and this can be seen with most smokers who use tobacco regularly. Addiction is characterized by obsessive drug seeking and abuse, even when all the negative health consequences associated with that drug are plain evident. Studies show that most smokers recognize the harmful effects of using tobacco and express the desire to stop or reduce its use. Actually, almost 35 million of tobacco smokers want to quit each year, but 85% of them find themselves relapsing, mostly within a week.
What makes nicotine addictive?
Whenever you use tobacco products, nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream fast and reaches the brain within less than 15 seconds of entering into the body. It works on the brain to release adrenaline that gives you a buzz of pleasure and intense energy. However, this buzz fades away quickly and leaves you feeling exhausted, a little down or out of mood, and wanting to feel the buzz again. This feeling is what makes you reach out for that next cigarette and with time, since your body builds a high tolerance to the nicotine in the cigarette, you find yourself smoking more and more cigarettes in order to derive those pleasurable effects of nicotine. This up and down cycle repeats itself time and again, leading to addiction.
Typical cigarettes contain anywhere between 8mg and 20mg of nicotine. Most of them are at the lower end of the range, meaning that 12mg is the average amount of nicotine in one cigarette. However, even though the amount of nicotine in different cigarettes may vary, the amount you absorb into your body is relatively constant. According to most studies and data presented on this topic, you absorb only less than 1mg of nicotine in the cigarette. But it is wise to note that the total number of cigarettes you smoke has a direct impact on how much nicotine gets into your bloodstream. The higher the number, the more the nicotine you’ll end up having in your system.
If you are trying to quick smoking, it can be tough depending on how extensive your tobacco use has been. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include depression, craving, irritability, increased appetite, cognitive and attention deficits, headache and sleep disturbances. These symptoms may start within a few hours of smoking the last cigarette, quickly driving a smoker back to a puff. However, in most cases the symptoms start to exhibit within the first few days of quitting smoking and usually subside within a few weeks. But in other cases the symptoms may persist even for months.
The severity of withdrawal symptoms is affected mainly by two factors. One is the pharmacological effects of nicotine while the other is behavioral factors smokers get used when smoking. For some people, just the smell, feel or sight of a cigarette as well the rituals of handling, lighting and smoking, captivates the pleasurable effects of the practice and this can make withdrawal or craving even worse.
Nicotine replacement therapies such as inhalers, patches and gums can go a long way in helping reduce the pharmacological effects of nicotine withdrawal, but cravings often persist. Behavioral therapies also help smokers to find their environmental triggers of tobacco craving and devise strategies to circumvent the urges and symptoms.