Nicotine, a naturally occurring substance in tobacco, affects the brain by producing a pleasurable sensation without changing behaviour. Much like hard drugs, however, nicotine leads to addiction and physical dependence.
How addiction happens
Nicotine stimulates the brain within 10 seconds of every drag.
The brain reacts to this stimulation by producing substances known as” endorphins,” which make you feel good. One of these substances, dopamine, is primarily responsible for the enjoyable sense of relaxation you get from smoking. The brain actually becomes addicted to these substances, not to nicotine itself.
Your brain normally produces these “feel-good” substances on its own, when you do something you enjoy or when you are having a good time, for example.
When you quit smoking, your brain has to relearn to produce and regulate endorphins without the use of nicotine in order for you to avoid experiencing withdrawal.
|Dizziness||1 to 2 days||Take deep breaths and stretch.|
|Fatigue||2 to 4 weeks||Get plenty of rest, exercise, eat well and drink plenty of water.|
|Insomnia||Up to 3 weeks||Avoid stimulants (e.g., coffee, use of technology) before bed. Do something relaxing instead (e.g. reading, bubble bath, soft music).|
|Coughing||Less than 7 days||Drink plenty of water to flush the mucus out of your lungs.|
|Constipation||3 to 4 weeks||Drink water, eat fibre-rich foods and get some exercise.|
|Hunger||A few weeks||Snack often, but choose healthy foods in small quantities.|
|Intense cigarette cravings||2 weeks||Use your strategies!|
|Irritability||May vary||Tell yourself that it’s normal and that it means you are in the process of regaining your freedom.|
|Pressure around the head and eyes||May vary||Relax, breathe, get a massage.|