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Abstinence syndrome in smokers


abstinence-syndrome-in-smokers

"Psychoactive substance is every substance, which intake into organism can modify one or more functions". This definition of psychoactive substances is given by the World Health Organization. These are substances or mixtures of substances which have act upon the central nervous system (brain) and they cause changes in the experience and behavior. Not taking the substance that modified the functions develops a group of symptoms, which are defined as "abstinence syndrome" or "withdrawal syndrome".

Contrary to other substances smoking is regarded differently

Not only is tobacco smoking a risk factor and the cause of lungs and heart diseases, but it is the disease itself. Tobacco addiction is confirmed as the disease in the International Classification of the Diseases WHO (ICD-10) and American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV). Most smokers are addicted to tobacco in some level, although the strength of the addiction may vary a lot. An "addict" is a smoker who needs a cigarette despite the given circumstances and whose behavior depends on the contents of a cigarette, and who cannot resist smoking, even if they know that it may harm them. It is impossible for a smoker to stop smoking without difficulties, even if they want to do that or if they know that it is vital for their health protection and health protection of their closest people. This happens because there is tobacco addiction developed, and nicotine is a substance which is contained in tobacco and which causes the addiction. The addiction (the nicotine addiction can be also developed in animals in experimental conditions) is caused by influence that nicotine has on nicotine receptors in the central nervous system. The effects of nicotine on the central nervous system are shown or they have influences on the same mechanism as drugs, such as heroine or cocaine, which cause the modification of some of the body functions. It can speed up mental processes, cause the real anxiety, improve physical functioning as well as create pleasant feelings. All of these symptoms cause the smoker to want nicotine again and again, and more and more frequent.
Tobacco smoking is the most effective way to have nicotine reach the human brain. The nicotine from the smoke needs only few seconds to come into the brain.
The symptoms of nicotine addiction become more frequent because the number of the cigarettes smoked during the day increases. The nicotine intake causes tolerance to most but not all its effects. These effects include "upper regulation" of so called nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. The number of the nicotinic receptors is being increased because the exposition to the drug is increased. These effects "imprison" the smoker.

Abstinence syndrome

The addiction to the nicotine and the syndrome (symptoms) that appear when there is a lack of nicotine (abstinence syndrome) are the obstacle for stopping to smoke. When the smokers stop smoking they lose the "positive" effect of nicotine which they used to feel, and now they have "painful" effects of its lack. This is the reason why tobacco smoking cannot be considered willing decision and why tobacco market cannot be considered free. Pressured by aggressive marketing of the tobacco industry, the tobacco use has been spread through all western countries and still spreads all around the world.
The cigarettes have no personality, emotions or social class. They are the stick of tobacco, paper, glue, and poisonous chemicals. There is nothing useful for human organism in them. The cigarettes are easy reachable product, created in order to produce the addiction, which kills a half of its regular users in the end.
Even though there is only one substance from tobacco that "binds" a smoker to the cigarette from the very start of smoking, and that is "dangerous" nicotine, there are criteria as the nature of addicting to smoking.

The criteria of smoking cigarettes addiction                                                     
Highly controlled  or impulsive intake                                         +
Psychoactive effects                                                                          +
Drug-induced behavior                                            +
Stereotypic intake                                                                    +
Intake despite of harmful intake                                            +
Relapse after abstinence                                                           +
Tolerance                                                                                      +
Physical addiction                                                                            +
Pleasant /euphoric effects                                                                  + 

Smoker are classified as "addicts" if:
  • they need a cigarette despite the given situation
  • the behavior is conditioned by the nicotine
  • they cannot resist smoking even when they know it is harmful.
The effects that cause the smoker to ask for the nicotine again:
  • modification of some functions in the body
  • speeding of mental processes
  • repressing the anxiety (worry)
  • improvement of physical ability to complete the work
  • causing the pleasant feelings

The following facts show that the tobacco smoking is chronic disease, and the approach to it should be organized and serious:
  • Smoking tobacco is the main preventable cause of deaths and diseases, as the consequence of respiratory illnesses over the world.
  • Tobacco smoking needs constant care with professional advisements, support and medical treatment.
  • Most smokers are addicted to tobacco to some level, but the strength of the addiction can vary.
  • Nicotine addiction can make the smokers difficultly to stop smoking
  • The symptoms of nicotine addiction become more frequent with the number of cigarettes smoked during a day.
  • What makes the process of discarding smoking and abstinence syndrome easier are the substances that substitute nicotine (nicotine replacement therapy – NRT). Until now these are the only products with nicotine that are officially permitted.
NRT includes :
  • Nicotine patches, nicotine gums lozenges, nasal spray, inhaler and microtablets.
  • This treatment is aimed to replace the nicotine from cigarettes and reduce the effect of abstinence syndrome.
  • Some NRTs can be found on a free market in some countries of the world, while in the other countries these can be bought only with the prescription.
  • NRT can be bought in Serbia in a free market in the form of patches with 15mg, 10mg, 5mg and gums with 4mg and 2mg.


It is almost impossible for smokers to quit smoking without difficulties, even when they want to do it because of their health or health of the people in their surrounding. This happens because  tobacco smoking exists and the nicotine is the substance that is contained in tobacco and produces  addiction. *the text is published in cooperation with bbsoft.co.yu  


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