Nicotine is a drug found primarily in tobacco products. It is recognized as the main ingredient in tobacco products that is thought to cause the intense addiction many people experience once they begin smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco. Nicotine contains nitrogen and acts as a stimulant. In large doses, it has the ability to block actions involving autonomic nerves and skeletal muscle cells. Because of what it does to the nerves and skeletal muscles, it is a common ingredient in many pesticides.
What Does Nicotine Do To The Body? *
Nicotine has properties that make it both a stimulant as well as a sedative. When ingested in small amounts, such as smoking a cigarette, the nicotine that enters the system stimulates the adrenal glands, while suppressing the function of the pancreas. The result is an increase in glucose within the blood stream. The release of adrenaline increases a person’s blood pressure, heart rate and respiration.
The ingestion of nicotine also causes dopamine to be released within the brain. Dopamine heightens pleasure and elevates emotions leading to contentment and relief. The level of nicotine a person consumes at one time will determine whether the person experiences a stimulant effect or that of a sedative.
In some ways, the stimulant effect can heighten a person’s mood and improve brain function by causing certain chemicals in the brain to be released that react with neurotransmitters and receptors. Small amounts of nicotine allow norepinephrine and acetylcholine to be released, working within the brain to keep a person alert and awake. If too much nicotine is consumed, the reverse occurs. It basically contradicts itself causing a sedative effect that leads to drowsiness and lethargy.
What Effect Does Nicotine Have on the Body *
Nicotine is extremely addictive. Small amounts of nicotine consumed over long periods of time will allow the body to build up a tolerance. This means that as nicotine use continues, the body needs more and more to reach the same level of satisfaction. As with any other form of addiction, the body begins to crave the drug if it does not receive a dose during a specific amount of time. Once a dose is received the stress of being without it is relieved and the body begins to return to a state of unnatural balance.
If a person becomes addicted to nicotine, it can be extremely difficult to wean their body off of its effects. Once a person has built up a tolerance to nicotine, the best way to eliminate it from their system is to slowly and gradually lower the amount consumed until it is no longer required to maintain a balanced state. By gradually reducing the amount of nicotine the body needs, organs within the body begin to function at rates that are natural. In essence, they begin to work with the additional boost of the nicotine.
What Does Nicotine Withdrawal Feel Like *
When trying to determine what nicotine does to the body, it is important to remember what parts of the body are stimulated by the drug. Because it affects the adrenal glands, the pancreas and the brain, it stands to reason that using nicotine products heightens pleasure and increases energy levels. When a person decides to stop using those products and limits the amount of nicotine they consume, they will eventually begin to experience some form of withdrawal symptoms.
Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:
- Poor concentration
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight gain
- Increased appetite
- Decreased heart rate
The severity of the symptoms will be determined by the depth of a person’s addiction. The more nicotine a person uses, the more severe their withdrawal symptoms will be. A person who has smoked or used tobacco products for several years will require a longer period of recovery time than someone who has only smoked for one or two years.
Ways to Overcome Nicotine Addiction *
There are many ways a person can overcome nicotine addiction. Some people are able to quit smoking “cold turkey.” They can just decide, one day, that they will no longer smoke or chew. Others are not so lucky. If they have the willpower, they can gradually reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke each day or the amount of chew they use. If a person has a severe addiction and cannot quit on their own, they can visit their family doctor to determine what medical options are available to them.
Nicotine patches supply a sustained dose of the drug as long as the patch is adhered to the body. Patches range in dosage and also vary in the amount of time they are to be left on the body. Nicotine patches must be prescribed by a physician. There are several reasons for this. First, misuse of the patches can lead to nicotine poisoning or an acute overdose. Using the patches under the supervision of a qualified physician is suggested so that there is little to no risk of any adverse reactions or unexplained side effects.
Medications are also available that can be prescribed by a physician to help alleviate the urge to smoke. By reducing the need for nicotine and blocking the receptors in the brain that control cravings, medications can help a person move past the urge to smoke. Many of these drugs have side effects that can be just as bad or worse than the nicotine addiction. Using these drugs under the immediate supervision of a qualified physician will help control many of these side effects.
Nicotine gums are also available. Although many of these can be purchased without a prescription, their use is still closely monitored by pharmacists. Many people choose the nicotine gum because it is more convenient than patches or medications if they need to get through a long period of time without smoking. A good example of this is taking a long flight or working in an environment where smoking is prohibited.
With both the nicotine patches and the anti-smoking medications, the dosages will need to be adjusted as the person’s addiction begins to lessen. Regular visits to the person’s primary physician will allow them to adjust the dosages of each and monitor the progress of the patient as they work towards their goal of being smoke free.
Nicotine is the cause of many adverse effects within the body. Whether a person consumes a little or a lot, the impact will become apparent over time. The longer a person uses, even if it is only a small amount, the harder it will be for them to stop craving it. If a person begins to gradually decrease their tobacco use on their own, overcoming the addiction will be much easier and go much more quickly if they choose to use nicotine patches, gums or other anti-smoking medications.
It is important to consult a physician before attempting to use any anti-smoking medication or dermal, nicotine patch. Nicotine is a drug and does have toxic properties if taken in large amounts. It is important to follow the doctor’s orders when using drugs that contain nicotine to prevent an overdose or nicotine poisoning. Side effects should be immediately reported to the primary physician so they can determine whether or not treatment needs to be stopped or the dosage adjusted.