Nicotine dependence is the physical vulnerability of your body to the chemical nicotine, which is potently addicting when delivered by various tobacco products. Smoke from cigarettes, cigars and pipes contains thousands of chemicals, including nicotine. Nicotine produces physical and mood-altering effects in your brain that are temporarily pleasing; these effects reinforce your continued use of tobacco.
Being addicted to tobacco brings you a host of health problems related to the substances in tobacco smoke. These effects include damage to your lungs, heart and blood vessels.
Breaking an addiction to nicotine is difficult and takes commitment, support and time. But even if you are a long-time smoker, stopping smoking plus taking healthy lifestyle steps can reverse much of the damage smoking has done to your body.
The water pipe – hookah, narghile, shisha or goza in Arabic - has been used to smoke tobacco in the Middle East and Asia for centuries.Hookah smoke is filtered through water before it is inhaled. This fact leads many people to believe that hookah smoking is safer than smoking cigarettes because the water in the hookah filters out all the "bad stuff". This is not true. Recent studies have found that hookah smokers actually ingest more nicotine than cigarette smokers because of the massive volume of smoke they inhale.
According to a World Health Organization advisory, a typical one-hour session of hookah smoking exposes the user to 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette. Even after passing through the water, the tobacco smoke still contains high levels of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens).
Hookah smoking also delivers significant levels of nicotine - the extremely addictive substance in tobacco. The hookah smoking trend is a concern for doctors and public health experts because, despite the claims of many users, smoking from a hookah is proving to be even more dangerous than smoking a cigarette.
Signs and Symptoms
Being dependent on tobacco may mean you have these signs and symptoms:
- You can't stop smoking. You've made one or more serious but unsuccessful attempts to stop.
- You experience strong withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop. Your attempts at stopping have caused physical signs and symptoms of addiction, such as craving for tobacco, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, headache, drowsiness, stomach upset, even constipation or diarrhea.
- You keep smoking despite health problems. Even though you've developed problems with your lungs or your heart, you haven't stopped or can't stop. This is one of the highest measures of tobacco dependence.
- You give up social or recreational activities in order to smoke. You may stop going to certain restaurants or stop socializing with certain family or friends because you can't smoke in these situations.
When you inhale tobacco smoke, you are ingesting a chemical parade that will march through most of your body's vital organs. The negative health effects throughout your body are numerous, including:
- Lungs: Smoking is the cause of 87 percent of all lung cancer. Smoking is also the primary cause of other lung problems, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
- Heart and circulatory system: Smoking is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The reason for this is unclear, but researchers suspect that nicotine triggers your adrenal glands to produce hormones that stress your heart by increasing blood pressure and heart rate. Carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke steals oxygen from the heart and other vital organs. Smoking may also constrict your blood vessels, placing you at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke.
- Cancer: Smoking is a major cause of cancer of the esophagus, larynx, throat (pharynx) and mouth and contributes to cancer of the bladder, pancreas, liver, kidney, cervix, stomach, colon and rectum, and some leukemia.
- Appearance: The chemicals in tobacco smoke can dry and irritate your skin as well as promote wrinkles. Smoking also yellows your teeth, fingers and fingernails.
- Fertility: Smoking increases the risk of infertility and miscarriage in women and the risk of impotence and infertility in men.
- Pregnancy and newborn complications: Mothers who smoke while pregnant increase the risk of low birth weight, pre-term delivery and impaired lung function in their newborns.
- Senses: Smoking deadens your senses of taste and smell, so food is not as appetizing as it once was.