Every cigarette pack has a warning ‘smoking is injurious to health’. People understand this and feel the effects of smoking every time they have a sore throat or cough. However, this does not stop them because the reason for smoking is mostly psychological. Smoking is glamorized in advertisements and movies, which lure people towards tobacco.
A person, who initially starts with 2 cigarettes a day becomes addicted in a short time and ends up with a pack in a day. The nicotine present in cigarettes affects the brain and addiction to this substance makes it difficult for the person to quit smoking. However, it is possible to overcome this habit, once you get rid of the psychological reasons.
How a person becomes addicted to smoking?
Nicotine is very similar to some of the neurochemicals present in the human brain. Due to its similarity with the neurotransmitter, it gets stuck to the brain receptors and activates the areas of the brain, which are responsible for producing a pleasurable sensation. With time these receptors are reduced in number and the brain becomes resistant for nicotine.
- Nicotine releases dopamine from the brain, which is responsible for immediate pleasure.
- After inhalation of nicotine, the brain stimulates the receptors to enhance adrenaline secretion. This secretion allows smokers to feel that they are powerful.
- Smoking itself is a cause of stress. Although it reduces the stress instantly, after a few minutes, when the nicotine level is reduced, it again leads to a stress reaction in the system.
- With time the brain becomes addicted to nicotine and allows it to regulate the level of chemicals in the body like dopamine and insulin.
- Nicotine increases body metabolism and triggers the brain to release stored fats.
- It decreases sensitivity to caffeine.
How does nicotine affect your brain?
It has the following effect on the brain:
- Reduces IQ level: Several types of research have been conducted on smokers and they reveal that smoking has reduced their IQ level, which in turn reduces their capacity to work with any analytical problem. This reduced mental capacity is due to the reduction in oxygen supply in the blood and an increase in the carbon monoxide in hemoglobin.
- Effect on the concentration power: It is a myth among people that smoking enhances the ability to focus. The truth is exactly the opposite, a smoker feels restless due to impurities or low oxygenated blood supply to the brain.
- Reduces sex desire: Smokers have less sex desire compared to normal people. The main reason is the feeling of fatigue due to the nicotine-induced nervous stimulation. Another reason is that continuous consumption of nicotine reduces the receptors, especially of that area, which is responsible for sexual stimulation.
- Reduces the pleasurable receptor in the brain: Generally, the problem of mood swings is noticed in smokers, this is due to the reduction of receptors responsible for the pleasurable response. Nicotine stimulates artificially those receptors responsible for pleasure sensation and the long term use of cigarettes reduces these receptors.
- Increases the chances of brain stroke: Nicotine consumption makes the blood thicker and due to excessive smoking plague gets deposited in the arteries. Due to this deposit, the arteries lose their elasticity. The arteries are responsible for blood supply to the brain. When they are blocked due to deposits or lose their elasticity, it results in a stroke.
- Causes brain shrinkage: Patients with multiple sclerosis have more chances of brain shrinkage and lesions while smoking. Excessive smoking may cause brain injury by breaking down the barrier between the brain and the blood vessels. It also affects motor functioning like walking or talking with time.
Thus, smoking has severe effects on the brain. It is more injurious for teenagers because their brain is still in the developing stage. The experts suggest smokers use electronic cigarettes that deliver nicotine through the vapour, which is not very harmful.