Nicotine is a chemical that rapidly initiates changes in your body, that raise blood pressure, and increase heart rate. In addition, it increases the risk of thrombosis (blood clots). Addictions like nicotine, alcohol, heroin etc, are serious problems, that can ultimately kill you. Addicts often seek aid or help centers for treatment or therapy. Quite often, there are psychological, as well as physical symptoms that need addressing.
The lining of the lungs are the perfect tool for exchange of gases. The lining is thin, moist, and with a huge surface area.
This is vital to our survival because:
1. We rely on oxygen passing from the air we breathe into our lungs, through this lining, and into our blood stream on the other side.
2. We also rely on carbon dioxide accumulated in our blood, to pass the other way, reducing the CO2 content of the blood.
These two processes work simultaneously.
The lining of the lungs is not selective, so any gas that is breathed in, can pass across the lining. Nicotine is one of many substances found in cigarette smoke, and it easily crosses the lungs lining, and passes into the blood, where it rapidly travels to the brain (only a few seconds).
Nicotine reduces the diameter of the blood vessels, and causes a release of adrenaline from the adrenal glands. These two things increase heart rate, and blood pressure.
Nicotine also reduced blood flow to hands and feet, thereby reducing the amount of oxygen supplied to those areas.
In addition, nicotine increases the “stickiness” of blood platelets, increasing the risk of thrombosis.
Nicotine also has a direct effect on raising blood fat levels.
Nicotine clearly isn't good for your body.
How does Nicotine Addiction develop?
Nicotine mimics the effect of acetyl choline, and can bind to some acetyl choline receptors (these are called nicotinic receptors) found in post-synaptic membranes of nerve cells. When nicotine does bind to these receptors, the nerve cell is stimulated, leading to vasoconstriction (blood vessels reduce diameter, slowing blood flow) of blood vessels to the gut and limbs.
Nicotinic receptors are found where neurons meet muscle, and direct stimulation of these receptors by nicotine, leads to muscle contraction (it is mimicking acetyl choline).
Nicotine tolerance can result from repeated stimulation of these receptors. Tolerance is where your body gets used to a substance so that the same dose becomes less effective in creating an effect. As tolerance develops, smokers need to smoke more, to get the same feeling (in much the same way that heroin tolerance develops).
Those who smoke (or switch to) low nicotine brands of cigarettes, are likely to increase the number of cigarettes they smoke, to increase the levels of nicotine they take into their body.
How to quit smoking?
For those wishing to break their nicotine addiction, there are various aids to help. Nicotine gum (Nicorette is probably the best known) can substitute for smoking, allowing you to stop smoking, and therefore avoiding all of the other harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke, while you have time to reduce you nicotine intake, and therefore reduce nicotine's hold over you. There are also smoking patches. However, the one thing you need to realize is that these are not guaranteed to work. You must want to quit.