The poisonous chemicals in tobacco smoke reach your brain, heart and other organs within 10 seconds of your first puff. It troubles almost every part of your body and increases your risk of many ailments. Tobacco also affects how you look and feel, your finances and the people close to you.
What happens in your body?
When you smoke tobacco, harmful chemicals enter your lungs and spread through your body. They can:
- spread your brain, heart and other organs within 10 seconds of your first puff
- drive everywhere your blood flows, harming every part of your body.
How do you become addicted?
The nicotine in tobacco is extremely addictive. It makes your brain release a neuro-chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is a feel good chemical that:
- makes you feel happy
- helps you to concentrate
- gives you more energy.
Nevertheless, this effect doesn’t last long.
Your brain needs more dopamine as the nicotine levels in your body fade. The longer you have been smoking, the extra dopamine you want to feel good. Eventually you become reliant on nicotine.
Deprived of it you will have withdrawal symptoms once you are dependent on nicotine. You may find it tough to focus and might start to feel nervous, restless, irritable or anxious. These two things related to nicotine dependence increase the urge to smoke more. Thus, you become habituated to tobacco.
How does tobacco damage your body?
The elements in tobacco smoke can damage your body in many ways. Let’s say:
- Nicotine tapers your veins and arteries. This can upset your heart by compelling it to work faster and harder
- It can slow your blood flow and reduce oxygen to your feet and hands.
- It increases carbon monoxide in blood which denies your heart of the oxygen it needs to pump blood around your body.
- It secretes a sticky substance called tar that coats your lungs like soot in a chimney. Eventually your lungs allow less air in the body and get destroyed.
- Phenols secreted by cigarettes paralyse and kill the hair-like cells in your air route. These cells keep the lining of your airways and protect them against infections. Their destruction increases the chances of respiratory infections.
- Small particles in tobacco smoke irritate your throat and lungs and cause ‘smoker’s cough’. This leads the body to form more mucus and damages lung tissue.
- Elements like ammonia and formaldehyde worsen your eyes, nose and throat.
How does tobacco affect the way you look?
Smoking tobacco can:
- Leads to yellow-brown stains on your fingers, tongue and teeth
- raises your risk of tooth loss and bad breath
- make your skin loose and give you early wrinkles
- make your hair lose its natural lustre.
What are the different ways to reduce tobacco addiction?
Given below are some ways to help you resist the urge to smoke or use tobacco when a craving strikes.
Try nicotine replacement therapy
Request your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy. The options include:
- Treatment nicotine in a nasal spray or inhaler
- Without a prescription you can buy nicotine patches, gum and lozenges
- Prescription non-nicotine stop-smoking medicines like bupropion (Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL, others) and varenicline
Its urges are likely to be strongest in the places where you smoked or chewed tobacco most often, like at parties or bars, or at times when you were feeling stressed or sipping coffee. Look out your triggers and have a plan in place to avoid them or get through them without using tobacco.
If you sense like you’re going to give in to your tobacco longing, tell yourself that you must first wait. Then do something to divert yourself during that time. Attempt going to a public smoke-free zone. These simple tricks may be sufficient to move you past your tobacco craving.
Chew on it
To fight a tobacco craving give your mouth something to do. Masticate on sugarless gum or hard candy. Or chew on raw carrots, nuts or sunflower seeds, something crunchy and tasty.
This can help distract you from tobacco cravings. Even short bursts of movement like running up and down the stairs a few times can make a tobacco craving go away. Get out for a walk.
Try relaxation methods
Smoking may have been your way to deal with tension. Fighting back against a tobacco craving can itself be worrying. Take control of stress by trying ways to relax, like deep breathing, muscle relaxation, yoga, visualization, massage or listening to soothing music.
Remind yourself of the paybacks
Record or say out loud why you want to stop smoking and resist tobacco cravings. These details might include:
- Feeling better
- Getting healthier
- Thrifting your loved ones from second-hand smoke
- Saving money
Always remember that trying something to beat the urge to use tobacco is always better than doing nothing. Also, each time you resist a tobacco craving, you’re one step nearer to being tobacco-free.