We are all familiar with cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and snuff … well, most of us have heard of these types of tobacco products, anyway. There are over 4,000 chemicals in tobacco, and nicotine is only one of them! Nicotine is the one responsible for us getting addicted. The other chemicals are just toxic which means we are getting poisoned, even when inhaling second- or third-hand smoke. Even though tobacco doesn’t make us high, it is at least as hard to get away from it as heroin, and we all know what kind of an opiate crisis America is in today.
Because nicotine is a drug, it changes our body’s chemistry and responses. Although people claim they calm down when smoking, nicotine is a stimulant. This calming effect may be due to cessation of withdrawal symptoms when lighting up. Having grown up with chain smokers, I wonder if nicotine works in much the same way as medications for hyperactivity – they overstimulate you so you cross over your threshold and no longer feel stimulated. How dangerous, if true!!! While our bodies are being hyped up, our hearts beat faster and our blood pressure goes up. Our risk for cardiac events and strokes climbs.
Couple that with high stress corporate American life – or other high stress work and personal lifestyles – and our bodies become ticking bombs, ready for heart attacks and worse. Despite label warnings mandated by congress in 1984, education and age regulation, while necessary, are no match for addiction.
By the time we reach the older adult category, about 50 and older, we are more likely to experience coughing, breathing difficulties, and fatigue more easily than non-smokers our age, etc. Even younger people might report these symptoms. At the risk of being redundant, smoking causes all kinds of cancers – lung, throat, mouth, esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, kidney, bladder, and so on.
Is this the life you desire for yourself? Is this the role model you want to make for others, especially younger people who may look up to you? Think about quitting … today. There’s no time like the present!
Dr. Donna Poppendieck (Dr. P) has over 30 years of experience in the mental health care field. She is a seasoned college professor and instructor for providers. She uses credible, proven holistic health strategies in instruction for parents of children with mental health challenges looking for another approach as well as healthcare providers seeking to implement or understand holistic strategies.