Cigarettes have been around for more than a hundred years, with tobacco use itself going back much further. For long periods of time, it seemed like there were more people who smoked than who didn’t. The social aspect is a big factor in tobacco maintaining a relatively high level of popularity, but the one thing that has an even larger role in the staying power of tobacco is the addictive compound nicotine.
Every single time you light a cigarette, there are thousands of chemical compounds along with nicotine that enter your body. Nicotine first gains access to the bloodstream via the mouth, throat, and lungs, and it frequently reaches the brain in only about ten seconds. This helps to reinforce the addiction with a very prompt pleasure feeling.
One of the newer ways that nicotine is gaining addicts, is through vaping. No longer do people have to deal with disgusting dip, foul-smelling cigarettes, inconvenient patches, or expensive gum. Now nicotine can be easily vaporized and inhaled in combination with any one of countless flavor options. Not only does inhaling delicious root beer flavored or pina colada flavored nicotine lead to easier administration, but the lack of easily identifiable “doses” in the form of individual cigarettes, for example, increase the possibility of taking larger or more frequent doses without realizing it. This can make the effects of the addiction, and subsequent detox, far more severe.
What is a Nicotine High?
It works in part by stimulating our nervous system and forcing it to release certain hormones and neurotransmitters. These chemicals act as messengers to various parts of your brain and bodily systems. Once inhaled, nicotine causes an immediate flood of epinephrine, which is also known as adrenaline.
Epinephrine is a strong stimulant, and often causes a sudden spike in blood pressure and heart rate, as well as making you breathe more forcefully. It then tricks your brain into thinking this is all pleasurable, by causing a significant release of the hormone dopamine, which is one of the main hormones that are responsible for making you feel happiness or enjoyment.
Side-Effects of a Nicotine High
When introduced to your bloodstream and distributed to your brain, it only takes about ten seconds for the initial effects to begin to be felt. The feelings of enjoyment are felt incredibly quickly. This strongly reinforces the addictive nature of nicotine in a very distinct reward system for the task of smoking. This is one of the reasons that it is so difficult to break the cycle of nicotine addiction.
Some of the side-effects of a nicotine high help reinforce the addictive behavior and the cycle of addiction. Nicotine addiction can cause an immediate reversal of withdrawal symptoms, which is an incredibly reinforcing effect. The addict may also notice a performance enhancement in daily activities and at work. They may notice more effective mood modulation while under the effects of nicotine. Many smokers also see a lower body weight, as well as rapidly gaining weight during their unsuccessful attempts to quit.
This leads to a heavily self-medicating addiction where the nicotine causes perceived positive effects and attempts to quit quickly see failure. The addict begins to feel like they need to smoke in order to feel relatively normal and lacking that nicotine, will begin to notice a host of real and perceived effects.
Withdrawal Symptoms When Detoxing from a Nicotine High
Everyone is different, and you may experience some, none, or all of these symptoms when trying to commit to nicotine cessation. Your particular symptoms and experience will depend on your history and health, but most people can expect to experience:
- Headaches – Any smoker that has tried to quit knows about those nicotine headaches. They are frequently one of the first symptoms to happen, and while they are not as debilitating as a migraine, they are strong and they can ruin your day for sure. They will also be one of the first symptoms to go away. Drinking a lot of water can help with reducing the severity and frequency of the headaches.
- Fatigue – Since nicotine is a stimulant, and as such going without it will make you feel tired. Of course, it won’t work in your favor either, so at night you will find yourself restless and may suffer insomnia.
- Constipation – Nicotine acts on the bowel by making it more active, this is often why many smokers have a bowel movement not long after their morning cigarette. The body will get used to this, and for about the first month after giving up nicotine, you may find yourself less regular than when you were an addict. After a few weeks, your body should adjust and things should even out.
- Cough – Since nicotine prevents your respiratory system’s natural ability to clean itself, quitting often leads to a persistent, and productive, cough that lasts for a few weeks. It may start off relatively heavy, but it should taper off soon.
- Cravings – Cravings are very likely to be your very first symptom, as well as your very last. They can often begin just 20-30 minutes after your last smoke, and they will last an average of fifteen minutes. While this may not seem daunting at first, realize that the cravings will keep on coming, and they will come harder and more frequently when near triggers like drinking or being around other smokers.
Addicted to a Nicotine High? How to Get Help
If you are fighting a nicotine addiction, you don’t have to do it alone. Not only are there strategies for kicking your addiction, but there are other resources as well. One of the most effective ways to formally commit to quitting is to make a plan. This can include things like:
- Getting rid of all nicotine from your home, vehicle, or office
- Learning what triggers you to want to smoke, and working through those triggers
- Use aids like gum, candy, or vegetables to occupy the oral fixation
One of the most effective ways to kick a nicotine addiction to the curb is to attend an inpatient drug rehab treatment option as it eliminates all temptations to return to the drug when cravings arise. Reach out to a premier drug rehab facility today to rid yourself of this addictive drug and its side-effects so that you can get on a path to a healthier, more fulfilling future right now.