Topics: Nicotine, Withdrawal / Pages: 8 (2106 words) / Published: Sep 30th, 2014
Nicotine and withdrawal symptoms
Reviewed by Gay Sutherland, honorary consultant clinical psychologist
What is nicotine?

A variety of different brain chemicals are altered each time you smoke.
Nicotine is the ingredient that causes physical addiction to tobacco.
It's a mild stimulant and increases activity in the brain just like caffeine, cocaine and amphetamine.
It's also a powerful toxin, which is why you probably coughed your way through that first cigarette all those years ago.
Nicotine in the brain
Nicotine affects every part of the nervous system, including the pleasure centre of the brain.
A variety of different brain chemicals are altered each time you smoke. When smokers are asked why they use tobacco, they say:
Did you know?
When you inhale, it takes just seven seconds for nicotine to reach the brain.
Drugs that enter the brain rapidly tend to be more addictive than drugs which get in more slowly. smoking stimulates and increases concentration smoking helps them to relax and deal with stress.
As a smoker, you might smoke some cigarettes to wake yourself up (eg the first one in the morning) and others to help you relax or calm yourself down when stressed or bored.
Although nicotine is primarily a stimulant drug, it works differently in different areas of the brain. For example, it soothes the limbic system, one of our most important emotional centres.
Nicotine and dependency
Nicotine is an addictive substance, which means your body gets used to nicotine and comes to need a certain level to function normally each day.
Any less than this dose and you start to feel snappy and on edge and get an urge to smoke.
Few smokers start on 20 a day, but increase their habit over time.
The usual pattern is to find smoking unpleasant at first, but the body and brain quickly adapt and you start to experience its enjoyable qualities.
You will then find you need to smoke more to feel these effects.
Further into your addiction, you will

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