Are You a Nicotine
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and X-rays of
Healthy and Diseased Lungs
Some people would argue that
smoke-a-holic is just a cute euphemism which should not be compared to what they consider
degrading syndromes. Contrary to this belief, nicotine addiction can be equally as
strong and deadly as any of these other conditions. In fact, if you total the number
of people who die yearly of all these other conditions combined, they would not add up to
the number of premature deaths attributed to cigarette smoking.
Until recent times, the idea of nicotine
being a physiologically addictive substance was controversial in the world-wide medical
community. For a drug to be considered addictive, it must meet certain criteria.
First, it must be capable of inducing physical withdrawal upon cessation.
Nicotine abstinence syndrome is a well documented, established fact.
Second, tolerance to the drug usually
develops. Increasingly larger doses become necessary to achieve the same desired effects.
Smokers experience this phenomena as their cigarette consumption gradually
increases from what probably was sporadic occasional use to a required daily consumption
of one or more packs.
The third criteria is that an addictive
substance becomes a totally consuming necessity to its user, usually resulting in what is
considered by a society as anti-social behavior. Many have argued that cigarette
smoking fails to fulfill this requirement. True, most smokers do not resort to deviate
behaviors to maintain their habit, but this is because most smokers do manage to easily
obtain the full complement of cigarettes they need to satisfy the addiction. When
smokers are deprived of easy accessibility to cigarettes, the situation is totally
During World War II, in concentration
camps in Germany, prisoners were not given enough food to fulfill minimum caloric
nutritional requirements. They were literally starving to death. A common
practice among smoking prisoners was to trade away their scarce supplies of life
sustaining food for cigarettes. Even today, in underdeveloped countries, such as
Bangladesh, parents with starving children barter away essential food for cigarettes.
This is not normal behavior.
During the "stop smoking
clinics" I conduct, numerous participants admit to going through ashtrays, garbage
cans and, if necessary, gutters looking for butts which may still have a salvageable value
of a few puffs when their own supplies are depleted due to carelessness or unforeseen
circumstances. To them, it is sick to think that they ever performed such a
grotesque act, but many realize that if they were currently smoking and again caught in a
similar predicament, they would be fully capable of repeating the repulsive incident.
Nicotine is a drug. It is
addictive. And if you let it, it can be a killer. Consider this when you get the
urge for a cigarette. One puff can and most often will reinforce the addiction.
Don't take that chance. Remember - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!
© Joel Spitzer 1982, 2000