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How come you're hooked?

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When you know what you’re up against, it makes it easier to win. So here’s all you really need to know about nicotine dependency.


Cigarette addiction has 2 elements:

How nicotine addiction works in the brain


What made you dependent on smoking?

Nicotine, which comes from the tobacco plant, is the thing that makes cigarettes both enjoyable and habit-forming. Drawn into your lungs when you smoke, it quickly transfers to your blood and is carried to your brain, where it causes the release of chemicals that give you pleasurable feelings for a short period of time. 

If you've smoked for a while, your brain will start to expect nicotine and actually grows new receptors that respond to the chemical. When you quit, these receptors start crying out for the drug causing withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, anxiety, restlessness, irritability and frustration.

Do cigarettes cause health problems?

Smoking cigarettes not only exposes you to nicotine. You're also breathing in over 7000 other chemicals, many of which are harmful. Two of the worst are:

  • Tar, which can coat your lungs and cause a build up of mucus, making breathing difficult. Particles of tar that reach your lungs can act as a carcinogen.
  • Carbon monoxide, which reduces the body's ability to circulate oxygen and is potentially lethal. Smokers have up to ten times more carbon monoxide in their bloodstream than non-smokers.

Don't forget the cocktail

It's great that you've decided to quit, and you'll have your own reasons for doing so. But if you ever feel tempted to lapse, remember the unpleasant cocktail of chemicals you'll be inviting into your body, and it may just help you resist the temptation.

We want to do all we can to help and support you. For the most tailored tips, find out what type of smoker you are: What type of smoker are you?