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Cigs & Addiction

 

A physician's viewpoint on cigarette advertising

 

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Increased Risk
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How Cigarettes Cause Physical Addiction:

Cigarette smoking on a regular basis changes the chemistry of the brain and produces addiction.  The nicotine that is present in tobacco is a very addictive substance.  Smoking produces changes in the same region of the brain as addiction caused by cocaine, amphetamines (speed), and morphine.

A region of the brain (called the nucleus accumbens) shows an increase in the presence of a particular neurotransmitter (dopamine) with chronic tobacco use. 

(A neurotransmitter is a naturally produced substance that helps transmit messages between different areas of the brain and between cells of the brain.)

The brain of a smoker then interprets this newly developed increase in neurotransmitter as the normal state.  When the addicted individual stops smoking the level of the neurotransmitter falls and the smoker feels a sense of an unfulfilled fundamental urge. The level of the neurotransmitter does not go back up until the person smokes again.  Smoking produces this counterproductive physically based urge to continue smoking.

This explains the sight of smokers rushing out on midday break to get a quick smoke before going back to work.  These individuals are physically addicted.  Their neurotransmitter levels have fallen to a lower level.  Only smoking a cigarette (or a surge of nicotine from another source) can relieve their discomfort and reestablish a sense of normality.  This is addiction.

As might be expected, teenagers are just as subject to developing addiction to tobacco as adults. And teenagers can feel just as trapped by that addiction as others.  The majority of teenage high school students who smoke regularly have tried unsuccessfully on at least one occasion to stop smoking.  The sad reality is that very few students expect that smoking was going to lead to their own personal addiction when they began smoking. 

 

 

 

 

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