Smoking the Life Away

How Excessive Consumption Of Nicotine Can Cause Brain Stroke

Dr. Ashok Hande

3/18/20242 min read

blue and green peacock feather
blue and green peacock feather

Nicotine is one of the most addictive chemicals known to man. Volume to volume, it is more addictive than cocaine or heroin. When a person smokes, nicotine reaches the brain within about ten seconds. First, nicotine improves mood and concentration, decreases anger and stress, relaxes muscles and reduces appetite. Regular doses of nicotine lead to changes in the brain, which then lead to nicotine withdrawal symptoms when the supply of nicotine decreases. Smoking temporarily reduces these withdrawal symptoms and can, therefore, reinforce the habit.

How Dopamine Leads To Chronic Decline

More than 90% of people, once exposed, cannot stop. Nicotine stimulates the release of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved in triggering positive feelings. It is often found to be low in people with depression, who may then use cigarettes to increase their dopamine supply temporarily

Nicotine also stimulates the pleasure centres of the brain, mimicking dopamine, so your brain starts to associate nicotine use with feeling good. When you try to quit, you may experience withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, irritability, and an intense craving for nicotine. Unfortunately, when these symptoms strike, many people burn another cigarette to ease the effects of withdrawal.

Alcohol and smoking together can cause a reduction in brain volume and permanent loss of brain cells in particular areas like the temporal, frontal, insula, and amygdala. This is serious as it can lead to severe cognitive decline

In medical words, chronic tobacco consumption causes cognitive decline and increased risk of dementia, which can affect memory, thinking abilities, language skills, judgement, and behaviour. Depression and schizophrenia are linked closely to chronic tobacco consumption.A 2015 Research review looked at 37 studies comparing smokers and nonsmokers and found that smokers were 30 per cent more likely to develop dementia. The review also found that quitting smoking decreases the risk of dementia to that of a nonsmoker.

How Smoking Can Cause Heart Attack

Smoking is a significant cause of heart attacks, brain strokes, emphysema, and lung cancer, not to mention premature abortions, infertility and decreased libido. Smoking rates have steadily declined in the U S in the last 50 years but have surged exponentially in developing countries.

An interesting study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) on the effectiveness of different incentive programs on smoking cessation. Only 16% of those invited to join the reward program quit smoking for six months. This study highlights the phenomenon of loss aversion in behavioural economics. Behavioural economics studies the consistent ways that people make irrational decisions.