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Thursday, September 15, 2011
Informative Essay on Nicotine Addiction
There is a general perception that smoking is a matter of personal choice and habit. This means that smokers get into the habit of smoking because they choose to do so and that they enjoy smoking. This also means that smoking is something that they have been accustomed to doing. However, if this is true then why is it that despite our knowledge about the dangers of smoking many people still die from smoking. Why is it that smoking is still the most preventable form of morbidity and mortality in the United States? Why is it that despite the knowledge that more than 400,000 individuals die each year from smoking-related deaths, many individuals continue to smoke? Is it really just a matter of personal choice and habit?
In order to alter a person’s smoking behavior and to encourage people to stop smoking it is necessary to understand why this behavior takes place in the first place. One of the many studies found that there are other reasons aside from personal choice and habit that cause an individual to continue to smoke despite its dangerous effects. It was only in the past couple of decades that the role of nicotine addiction in an individual’s smoking behavior has been analyzed. The studies have showed that nicotine is addictive and that nicotine addiction is one of the reasons why smokers continue to smoke.
These studies have found that nicotine addiction or dependence have both positive and negative reinforcement processes. Use of nicotine is positive because smokers find nicotine very pleasurable and relaxing. At the same time, the withdrawal of nicotine is difficult because of the withdrawal symptoms associated with smoking cessation. In fact, some of the most common withdrawal symptoms associated with smoking cessation are anxiety, irritability, depressed mood, insomnia and decreased heart rate.
Nicotine addiction or dependence is also shown by a high rate of failure among individuals who attempt to quit smoking. According to studies, as much as 75-80% of individuals who make an attempt to quit smoking fail. These studies also show that there is an increased risk for individuals who have attempted to quit smoking to fall into a relapse and crave for more nicotine. In fact, in some cases, the relapse is worse than the original nicotine addiction.
The studies also show that unlike the addiction to drugs like marijuana, heroin and cocaine, addiction to nicotine is more restrained. Marijuana, heroin or cocaine users will acknowledge that they feel a certain degree of “high” when they use these kinds of drugs. There is also a general awareness that drugs can be very addictive. In contrast, nobody would say that they feel ecstasy whenever they smoke. Nobody will also acknowledge that smoking can be addictive but rather they believe it only as a lifestyle choice. However, these smokers will agree that quitting nicotine is as difficult as quitting the use of drugs. Thus, smoking can be as addictive and dangerous as marijuana, heroin and cocaine.
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