The economic costs of tobacco use are substantial and that’s not without significant health care costs for treating the diseases caused by its use not forgetting the lost human capital that results from tobacco-attributable morbidity and mortality.
What is this famous tobacco?
Tobacco is a plant that contains nicotine, a psychoactive (mind altering) drug that can lead to addiction and speeds up activity in our central nervous system but has relaxing effects too.
This is why so many people who use tobacco find it difficult to quit. There are also many other scientifically proven harmful chemicals found in tobacco or created by burning it.
Why do people use tobacco?
Human beings have been using tobacco for many years for many reasons. From playing an important role in ceremonies to mark special occasions, to increase alertness or to relax and connect with friends and acquaintances at social gatherings. But like other psychoactive substances, tobacco can be harmful.
While someone may smoke a cigarette to relax after work, using tobacco as a tool to relieve stress may lead to reaching for a cigarette whenever they feel irritation or tension. Thus, they may begin to associate smoking with those feelings. Those who use tobacco to help with concentration, may find it difficult to study and work without smoking.
What happens when tobacco hits the human system?
When tobacco leaves are dried and smoked, the nicotine substance is absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream. When it is chewed or sniffed, nicotine substance is absorbed through membranes in the mouth and nose and then travels through the body to the brain.
What nicotine does is to trigger the release of dopamine, a chemical in the brain associated with pleasure. The effects can range from mild stimulation to relaxation.
Worthy of note is that tobacco and other nicotine related products may affect different people in different ways, depending on how much is used and how often.
The downside of ingesting tobacco.
Studies show that cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, many of which are known to cause cancer. Those who smoke a little once in a while may enjoy the stimulant or relaxing effects of tobacco and may not notice changes in their health. But even light and occasional smoking increases the risk of experiencing tobacco-related illness. The longer a person smokes or is around smoke, the greater the chances of developing a smoking-related illness such as heart attack, cancer of the lungs or mouth or throat, stroke and respiratory diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also puts us at risk of developing problems with the teeth and gums. For women who smoke when pregnant, there is the increased risk of miscarriage and having babies that may have a lower body weight.
For many who use tobacco, there may be brain changes brought on by continued nicotine exposure which may result in addiction. When a person tries to quit, they may have withdrawal symptoms, including such as irritability, problems of paying attention, trouble sleeping, increased appetite, powerful cravings for tobacco.
What about an overdose on nicotine?
Nicotine is poisonous and, though uncommon, there is a possibility of an overdose. An overdose occurs when the person uses too much of a drug and has a toxic reaction that results in serious, harmful symptoms or death. Nicotine poisoning usually occurs in young children who accidentally chew on nicotine gum or patches used to quit smoking or swallow e-cigarette liquid. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, vomiting, fainting, headache, weakness, and increased or decreased heart rate. Anyone concerned that a child or adult might be experiencing a nicotine overdose should seek immediate medical help.
What to do when you need help?
Both behavioral treatments and medications can help people quit smoking, but the combination of medication with counseling is more effective than either alone. Reach out to a local counselor. If you don’t have one, talk to your primary health physician who will link you up with one.
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