Tobacco has been used since the ancient times as an additive to pipes, leaves for smoking or chewable nuts. This substance is highly carcinogenic and has the potential to cause addiction in people. Nicotine as well as tobacco can be exactly as addictive as alcohol and other forms of drugs including morphine and cocaine.
When an individual stops smoking after a significant period of time, nicotine withdrawal occurs due to the absence of nicotine in the system. Nicotine withdrawal also tends to occur when an individual cuts down on the number of cigarettes he/she smokes usually1. Some of the most common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include headache, anxiety, constant craving for cigarettes or other nicotine containing products, irritability and sudden hunger pangs. Most of the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are evident in people around 12 to 24 hours after they have given up, or cut down on their smoking habits. Some of the common ways of using nicotine include cigarette smoking, cigar smoking, smokeless tobacco, smokeless snuff, pipe smoking, and simply chewing tobacco.
Causes, Incidence and Risk Factors:
Tobacco is grown in many parts of the world especially for its leaves. These leaves are used for smoking, chewing as well as sniffing. There is a variety of other uses of tobacco, owing to the effect it produces.
Tobacco contains a chemical known as nicotine which is an addictive substance. There a number of different types of cancers that can be caused due to the excessive usage of tobacco because it is known to contain over 19 distinct chemicals which have the potential to give rise to cancer.
There are countless people across the United States of America who do not smoke anymore, after successfully giving up the habit. Even though it is a fact that the total number of people who smoked has significantly decreased in the United States over the past couple of years, there has been a significant rise in the number of users that are inclined to using smokeless tobacco. Products that are used for the purpose of smokeless tobacco consumption are generally placed in the lip, mouth, or cheek so that the individual may suck or chew on them. They can also be placed directly into the nasal cavity for inhalation. The mechanism of absorption of both smoking as well as smokeless tobacco is similar, and in both cases the severity of addiction caused as strong. There are a number of health risks that are posed by the consumption of both smokeless as well as smoking tobacco. People who wish to quit their habitual smoking suffer from a condition known as the nicotine withdrawal. Individuals who are used to smoking excessively each day are known to have strong cravings and thus it is a fact that the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal that they show are much stronger and may get worse depending upon the situation, time and place.
There are a number of effects that the excessive usage of nicotine can have on the different functions of the body, which may be both negative and positive2. Nicotine is a chemical that can act as a depressant as well as a stimulant on the body.
Some of the different uses of nicotine have been enlisted as follows:
- Lowering appetite levels (this fact frequently affects the willingness of certain people to quit smoking due to the fear of gaining weight)
- Has been known to relieve depression of minor levels, and boost the mood. There is a certain sense of well being that is felt by people after using nicotine.
- Increases the level of glucose in the blood, and thus increases the amount of overall insulin produced in the body
- Enhances the activity of the bowel, phlegm as well as salivation
- Is known to enhance the heart rate by nearly 20 beats in a minute
- Nicotine also has an effect on the blood pressure which may increase by nearly 10 mm Hg due to the fact that it alters the elasticity of the blood vessels.
- It can induce diarrhea, sweating as well as nausea
- It can lead to alertness as well as stimulation of the memory.
- Smokers and users of nicotine feel that they tend to accomplish more and perform better after using tobacco
- Tends to relieve stress in people who are highly stressed
There are many strategies that can help treat nicotine withdrawal in patients who decide to quit smoking or chewing tobacco products.
Nicotine supplements are able to help if used properly. These come in many forms such as:
- Skin Patches
- Nasal Sprays
People often stop trying to give up smoking or chewing as it tends to be very difficult to do at first. Underlying depression may also hamper a person’s efforts with quitting.
Long-term use of tobacco and nicotine products carries many risks that include:
- Pregnancy Problems
- Heart Disease
Nicotine and tobacco George TP: Schafer AI, Goldman L, Cecil Medicine. 24th edition Philadelphia, PA
Treatment of tobacco dependence: Ebbert JO, Burke MV, Hays JT. Mayo Clinic Proc. 2008