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The true nature of nicotine addiction




Quit Date: 2-26-2014


Posted May 4, 2019 


The Law of Addiction


Most quitting literature suggests that it normally takes multiple failed quitting attempts before the user self-discovers the key to success. What they fail to tell you is the lesson eventually learned, or that it can be learned and mastered during the very first try.


Successful recovery isn't about strength or weakness. It's about a mental disorder where by chance our dopamine pathway receptors have eight times greater attraction to a nicotine molecule than to the receptor's own neurotransmitter. We call it the "Law of Addiction" and it states:


"Administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance."


Roughly half of relapsing quitters report thinking that they thought they could get away with using just once. The benefit of fully accepting that we have a true chemical dependency and permanent priorities disorder can't be overstated. It greatly simplifies recovery's rules while helping protect against relapse.


Key to arresting our illness is obedience to one simple concept, that "one is too many and a thousand never enough." There was always only one rule, no nicotine just one hour, challenge and day at a time.


Navigating Withdrawal and Reclaiming Hijacked Dopamine Pathways

Like clockwork, constantly falling nicotine reserves soon had hostage dopamine pathways generating wanting for more. Sensing that "want" thousands of times per year, how could we not expect to equate quitting to starving ourselves to death?


Again, the essence of drug addiction is about dependency quickly burying all memory of our pre-dependency self. Thus, the first step in coming home and again meeting the real us is emptying the body of nicotine.


It's amazingly fast too. Cut by half every two hours, our mind and body become 100% nicotine-free within 72 hours of ending all use. Extraction complete, peak withdrawal now behind you, true healing can begin. While receptor sensitivities are quickly restored, down-regulation of the number of receptors to levels seen in never-users may take up to 21 days.


But within two to three weeks your now arrested dependency is no longer doing the talking. Quitting fears and dread are gradually thawing and melting into "like" or even "love." You're beginning to sense the truth about where you've been.


It's critical during early withdrawal to not skip meals, especially breakfast. Attempting to do so will likely cause blood sugar levels to plummet, making recovery far more challenging than need be. Why?


A stimulant, nicotine activates the body's fight or flight response, feeding the addict instant energy by pumping stored fats and sugars into the bloodstream. It allowed us to skip breakfast and/or lunch without experiencing low blood sugar symptoms such as feeling nervous or jittery, trembling, irritability, anxiousness, anger, confusion, difficulty thinking or an inability to concentrate. Minimize or avoid those symptoms. Eat little, healthy and often.


If your diet and health permit, drink some form of natural fruit juice for the first three days. Cranberry juice is excellent. It will aid in stabilizing blood sugar while accelerating removal of the alkaloid nicotine from your bloodstream.


Also, heavy caffeine users need to know that (as strange as this sounds), nicotine doubles the rate by which the liver eliminates caffeine from the bloodstream. One cup of coffee, tea or one cola may now feel like two. While most caffeine users can handle a doubling of intake, consider a modest reduction of up to one-half if feeling anxious, irritable or unable to sleep following caffeine use.


One caution. While we need not give-up any activity except nicotine use, use extreme caution with early alcohol use as it is associated with roughly 50% of all relapses.



The above is an excerpt from John Polito's article, "Nicotine Addiction 101". It explains the science behind why it is so darn difficult to quit nicotine and to stay quit.


The full article is here: https://whyquit.com/whyquit/LinksAAddiction.html


Link to original post: https://www.quittrain.com/topic/12338-the-true-nature-of-nicotine-addiction/


Edited by jillar

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This info is so important and so true! Thanks for the bump @jillar. Smoking is not just a “bad habit.” We’ve been chemically hijacked, so we can’t see the cycle of addiction clearly while we’re still smoking. But quitting changes everything!  NOPE (not one puff ever) is more than a handy saying… it’s a neural necessity, and the only path to freedom. 

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