Nicotine Addiction Crash Course
A Quick Guide
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What is Nicotine and Nicotine Addiction?
Nicotine, found in the tobacco plant, is a substance known to cause addiction. Tobacco products are developed with additives and chemicals to facilitate the development of nicotine addiction to these products. It is important to understand nicotine addiction since it is the primary reason that people get addicted to tobacco products and experience significant difficulty in quitting these products. Here are some general resources about nicotine and nicotine addiction.
- “Nicotine and Addiction” Action on Smoking and Health
- California high school student's podcast titled Trapped: Understanding Addiction. Listen to "Episode 9: Drug Facts - Nicotine and Tobacco w/Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher"
Nicotine and the Brain
Nicotine affects the brain in multiple ways. Nicotine structurally mimics a neurotransmitter in our brain called “acetylcholine.” Nicotine binds to the receptors in the brain that are designed for acetylcholine and prevent it from doing its job. In addition, nicotine also activates the reward pathway in the brain. The reward pathway of the brain is responsible for feelings of pleasure when we do something that makes us feel good. Nicotine can activate this pathway, which can lead to addiction to nicotine. Read below for more resources on how nicotine affects the brain.
Nicotine and the Body
Besides the brain, nicotine has an effect on many different parts of the body. Since nicotine is structurally similar to acetylcholine, it binds to all the receptors throughout the body that use acetylcholine. For example, nicotine can increase your heart rate or impact your appetite. Here are additional resources on how nicotine impacts different parts of our body.
Nicotine and the Tobacco Industry
As we discuss in the PowerPoint, nicotine is found in tobacco products and increase the addictive nature of these products. The tobacco industry has intentionally enhanced nicotine in tobacco products to facilitate addiction to these products, even while denying the addictive nature of nicotine. In addition, tobacco companies acknowledge targeting adolescents since they recognize they are the start of their customer base. Here are some resources on tobacco company’s use of nicotine in tobacco products and their targeting of adolescents with their products.