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Why Are Cigarettes So Addictive

Jun 17, 2008
Giving up anything that you are addicted to is hard. Some people find it harder than others due to an addictive personality and you will find these are the people that may stop smoking cigarettes but will then start smoking marijuana or eating sweets or gambling.
These types of people find comfort in the habits associated with addiction. However, this doesn't apply to everyone. Some people get into smoking due to peer pressure and before they know it they are addicted. So, what makes cigarettes so addictive and why is it so hard to stop smoking?

We all know, through advertising, that it's the nicotine in cigarettes that makes them so addictive. Nicotine is a stimulant that releases beta-endorphins, the natural chemical in our brains that makes us feel good. Smokers will reach for a cigarette when they are stressed as it will make them feel calm, in control but alert at the same time. It is easy to get used to this feeling and need it more and more but as the body can't store nicotine, more cigarettes are needed to keep producing the same effect.

However, over time our brains get used to the artificial boost from cigarettes and stops producing its own endorphins. This means that when a smoker tries to stop smoking, they feel even worse before as the cigarettes are now needed simply to feel normal.
There are many everyday products that people claim to become addicted to such as chocolate and coffee but why are these easier to give up than cigarettes? The nicotine in cigarettes produces a more marked effect at a much greater speed than those other products. Nicotine passes into the brain within ten seconds of that first puff so the smoker reaches for an 'instant fix' to their feelings.

But it's not just the nicotine that affects our bodies. There are up to 600 additives and flavourings in every single cigarette. These chemicals multiply once the cigarette is lit and inhaled, thus releasing up to 4,000 chemicals that the smoker and those around them will be inhaling.

Of course, it would be impossible to list all the chemicals that you are inhaling in an article as short as this but if you are looking for a reason to stop smoking, check a few of them out here: Acetone - you know that stuff used to remove nail polish and ammonia (toilet cleaner), both poisons that will be inhaled in small doses with every cigarette you smoke.

Tar builds up in the lungs at a rate of 1.5 pounds per year for those who smoke twenty a day. Benzene is a solvent used in fuel and is known to be a carcinogenic. The chemical used in making batteries - Cadmium, is known to cause kidney damage and increase the risk of lung cancer.

Carbon monoxide, the same poison spewed out by car exhausts, prevents the blood carrying oxygen around the body so every cigarette will leave you with a reduced ability to exercise. Hydrogen cyanide has the same effect.

These are just a few of the chemicals that are in your cigarettes. They will all induce cholesterol build up and with the reduced capacity to get oxygen round the system, this will lead to heart disease, strokes and cancers.

If these fact that you are slowly poisoning yourself and your family isn't enough to encourage you to stop smoking, think about the fact that the cigarette manufacturers know exactly what they are doing by getting you addicted. This is a multi million pound business that thrives on other peoples addictions.
About the Author
Health expert Catherine Harvey looks at the reasons why people find it so hard to stop smoking and the chemical reactions that occur.
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