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How does nicotine hook smokers?

Nicotine addiction is caused when the brain reacts to the dopamine levels produced when the chemical nicotine reaches the brain. When the brain releases chemicals that make you feel good, it then produces urges that make you want more nicotine. Your brain creates connections between smoking and other activities you might perform while smoking. These connections remind your brain of smoking and make you want more.
Nicotine stimulates the reward center in the brain known as the "nucleus accumbens." Nicotine inhibits an enzyme called monoamine oxidase. This keeps dopamine levels high in the nucleus accumbens, leading to a pleasurable experience, sometimes referred to as a "high" or a "buzz." However, with time this mechanism in the brain requires more and more nicotine to achieve the same level of reward, leading to more nicotine consumption.
Nicotine causes pleasant feelings that make the smoker want to smoke more. It also acts as a kind of depressant by interfering with the flow of information between nerve cells. Smokers tend to increase the number of cigarettes they smoke as the nervous system adapts to nicotine. This, in turn, increases the amount of nicotine in the smoker's blood. In fact, nicotine inhaled in cigarette smoke reaches the brain faster than drugs that enter the body through a vein (intravenously or IV).
After a while, the smoker develops a tolerance to the drug. Tolerance means that it takes more nicotine to get the same effect that the smoker used to get from smaller amounts. This leads to an increase in smoking over time. The smoker reaches a certain nicotine level and then keeps smoking to maintain this level of nicotine.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.