Why is stopping smoking difficult for many people? The main answer is nicotine.
Nicotine is a substance naturally found in tobacco, which is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Over time, a person becomes physically and emotionally dependent on nicotine. Physical dependence can cause symptoms "sakau" when you try to stop. Emotional and mental dependence makes it difficult to stay away from nicotine. Studies show that to stop smoking and keep quitting, smokers must overcome physical and mental dependence.
Where does nicotine enter, and how long does it last?
When you inhale smoke, nicotine enters your lungs, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream along with carbon monoxide and other poisons, flowing throughout the body. In fact, nicotine inhaled from cigarette smoke reaches the brain faster than drugs given through blood vessels (intravenously or infused).
Nicotine affects many parts of the body, including the heart and blood vessels, hormones, metabolism and the brain. Nicotine can be found in breast milk and even cervical fluid in female smokers. During pregnancy, nicotine crosses the placenta and is found in the amniotic fluid and baby's umbilical cord.
Several factors affect how long it takes the body to remove nicotine and other products. In the general case, regular smokers will still have nicotine and other products such as cotinine in the body about 3-4 days after stopping smoking.
How is nicotine addictive?
Nicotine gives a good feeling and distracts the smoker from an unpleasant feeling. This makes smokers want to smoke again. Nicotine also acts as a depressant by affecting the flow between nerve cells. Smokers tend to smoke more as the nervous system adapts to nicotine. This causes an increase in nicotine levels in smokers' blood.
Over time, the nicotine tolerance level in smokers increases. Tolerance means that more nicotine is needed to have the same effect as the effects of former smokers with lower levels. At some point, smokers reach certain nicotine levels and continue to smoke to maintain nicotine levels.
When a smoker finishes his cigarette, nicotine levels in the body begin to decrease. Feelings of pleasure caused by cigarettes fade, so that smokers want to smoke again. If you don't smoke immediately, smokers will begin to feel sensitive and irritable. Usually this does not cause serious "sakau" symptoms, but smokers will feel increasingly uncomfortable. When the smoker returns, the feeling disappears and the cycle continues.
Symptoms of "sakau" can cause smokers to return to smoking
When smokers try to quit, nicotine deficiency can cause physical and mental symptoms of sakau. Physically, the body reacts to the disappearance of nicotine. Mentally, smokers must break their habits and make changes in behavior. Emotionally, smokers might feel like losing a good friend. These factors must be addressed so that the process of quitting smoking can work well.
Smokers who smoke regularly will experience symptoms of sakau for several weeks if they immediately stop smoking. Symptoms usually begin within a few hours after the last cigarette and peak 2 - 3 days after nicotine exits the body. Symptoms of sakau can last for several days to several weeks. Symptoms will improve if you stay away from smoking.
Symptoms of sakau can include:
- Dizziness (can take 1-2 days after stopping)
- Frustrated, impatient, angry
- Easy to get angry
- Sleep disturbance, difficulty sleeping soundly, nightmares
- Difficulty in concentration
- Tired or bored
- Increased appetite
- Weight gain
- Cough, dry mouth, sore throat and nasal drip
- Tightness in the chest
- Decreased heart rate
These symptoms can make smokers go back to smoking to get nicotine levels until the symptoms disappear.
Other substances in cigarette smoke
There is evidence that chemicals in cigarette smoke can play a role with nicotine to make smoking cessation more difficult. The effect of smoking on monoamine oxidase (a chemical in the brain) is being studied. In some people, stopping smoking can cause mood problems, which can worsen the desire to smoke.
Quitting smoking is not easy, but you can do it. To successfully quit and remain a non-smoker, you need to know what you want to avoid, what your choices are, and where you need to go for help.
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Reviewed Date: August 1, 2019 | Last Edited: August 1, 2019
("Guide to quitting smoking", American Cancer Society ® )