Adolescents, Mental Health, and Cigarette Smoking

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I began this research interested in looking at mental health and its relationship to cigarette smoking. By searching the Internet, I found myself being drawn into the discourse surrounding cigarette smoking, mental health and adolescents/adolescence. By seeing nicotine as addictive, and therefore an abuseable substance, and understanding the neurological effects nicotine has on the brain, we can see how cigarette smoking is connected to mental health. In adolescents the effect is even more pronounced because their relationships to peers and parents create situations where their mental health is compromised.

Nicotine is one of the many chemicals found in cigarettes, and is the "primary component in tobacco that acts on the brain." (1). You would think that after two hundred years of studying nicotine we would have a relatively sound understanding of it, and yet it still produces unexpected side effects on the brain and body.(1). Nicotine addiction in America is most commonly expressed and seen through cigarette smoking. "Most cigarettes in the U.S. market today contain 10 milligrams (mg) or more of nicotine. Through inhaling smoke, the average smoker takes in 1 to 2 mg nicotine per cigarette." (1).

How does nicotine enter a person’s body and where does it go once it’s inside? "Nicotine is absorbed through the skin and mucosal lining of the mouth and nose or by inhalation in the lungs. Depending on how tobacco is taken, nicotine can reach peak levels in the bloodstream and brain rapidly. Cigarette smoking, for example, results in rapid distribution of nicotine throughout the body, reaching the brain within 10 seconds of inhalation". (1).

How nicotine interacts with the brain significantly affects behavior. "Of primary ...

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... sheet, good source for smoking fact sheet

3)National Institute of Health paper, good paper linking adolescent cigarette smoking to anxiety disorders

4)Substance Abuse and Mental Heatlh Services Administration, paper explaining comorbidity of smoking and mental health

5)American Medical Association, mental health and adolescents

6)Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, paper about promoting adolescent smoking cessation

7)Medline Plus Health Information, relating a parents expectation to whether or not a kid will smoke
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