There can never be anything more disastrous than tobacco and nicotine addiction to health. Say No To Tobacco.
Think of an abused substance and the first name to flash in your mind would be a cigarette. When compared, smoking does more harm to health than alcohol. While there is a healthy alcohol limit, any amount of smoking is hazardous. The nicotine content might provide pleasure for a time-being but it has serious health implications in the long run. Do you know that one cigarette is made up of approximately 600 ingredients and when they are burnt, over 7,000 chemicals are released! Imagine the damage these chemicals would do to your body. Tobacco is a dangerous addiction and a person who smoked it once becomes addicted to it. About 6 million global deaths per year are due to tobacco and nicotine addiction which is higher than life-threatening diseases.
World No Tobacco Day is observed every year on 31st May to spread awareness about tobacco addiction and its harmful effects on human health. We want all our readers to stay away from tobacco or nicotine for health and longevity. This article is all about tobacco and nicotine addiction, From the reasons of addiction, symptoms, preventive measures to treatment, everything is covered in this comprehensive article.
Is Nicotine Addictive?
Let us begin with the most common question. Basically, tobacco has nicotine as its main addictive component. Some interesting nicotine facts would help you understand how it works:
- As you inhale or consume nicotine, it gets absorbed in the bloodstream.
- The smoke of cigarettes does the same.
- This causes adrenaline rush in the body by increasing dopamine production.
- Dopamine is a brain chemical. Basically it is a neurotransmitter which is also called a motivation molecule. This chemical is associated with pleasure, focus and energy.
- Most people smoke when stresses or de-motivated.
- Regular consumption of nicotine makes the person addicted to it.
- Not just smoking but other kinds of tobacco consumption have the same functioning.
Tobacco Addiction Symptoms
How to check if a person is addicted to tobacco? Tobacco addiction is easier to identify as it is harder to hide. Since tobacco is legal, an addicted person can consume it anywhere and at any time.
While social or occasional smokers don’t show any signs, here are some symptoms that can be seen in an addicted person:
- Needs tobacco to feel normal and their body cannot function without its consumption
- Need nicotine before and after a stressful event to calm their mind and body
- Light up a cigarette immediately after not using for hours
- Ends up consuming despite trying to quit
- Avoid places with No-Smoking board and find smoking zones everywhere they go
- Cannot stop smoking even if having health issues or when ill
- Show withdrawal symptoms such as excessive sweating, shaky hands, rapid heart rate, etc. when in quitting process
Possible treatments for tobacco addiction
Tobacco and nicotine addiction is one of the worst addictions known to humankind. It is very hard to manage especially if the addiction is for years. The chances of relapse are also there as some users have claimed that the smoking ritual continued even after nicotine craving ended. Even though it is difficult to get control of tobacco and nicotine addiction, it is not impossible. If the person is determined to battle it out. For those who are willing to throw tobacco and nicotine out of their life, here are some treatment options they have:
Another easy and effective treatment option is chewing nicotine gum. This is best for people who are habitual of chewing nicotine. It is the best fixation for smokers as they urge to smoke or put some kind of tobacco in their mouths. As you chew nicotine gums, you can control the tobacco consumption. Also, it does have a very small amount of nicotine to curb your craving.
Nicotine Patch or Nicotine Replacement Therapy
NRT or nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a patch therapy which is one of the easiest ways to curb nicotine cravings and reduce the amount of nicotine in your blood. It is a small sticky bandage that the person is required to stick on the back or arm. The patch helps in bringing nicotine levels to maximum low. The body gets over it gradually.
Nicotine spray or inhaler
Initial days of quitting tobacco can be tough depending upon the urge and habit. One can use nicotine sprays at the beginning of quitting as these deliver small doses of nicotine to the body. These sprays send nicotine dose directly to the lungs.
Psychological and behavioral treatments
We got in touch with Dr. Jyoti Kapoor, Psychiatrist, Paras Hospital, Gurugram, Haryana. According to her, Tobacco dependence is diagnosed when an individual compulsively uses tobacco despite knowing its ill effects on personal, social and physical health. The management of tobacco addiction involves the detoxification phase. The person is put on medication to improve the withdrawal symptoms like restlessness, agitation, lethargy, irritability, dysphoria, confusion, loss of focus etc.
Tips to quit tobacco and nicotine
- 1. Set a quit date.
- 2. Make a smoking diary and identify triggers and cues for smoking.
- 3. Remove all tobacco-containing items from your surroundings.
- 4. Sip cold water slowly when there is an urge to smoke.
- 5. Avoid places and companies of people who smoke.
- 6. Avoid cues that increase the urge like if you smoke when you are on a tea break, stop tea as well and instead take milkshakes/ juice/soup or go for a walk.
- 7. Nicotine Replacement therapy using nicotine gums or patches are useful.
- 8. Other medicines are prescribed after complete evaluation.
Following detoxification, the rehabilitation phase involves exploring tobacco use patterns and modifying them so that relapse is avoided.
- The process requires psychiatric consultation, supervision and counseling.
- Like most drug problems, tobacco use also increases with stress. Stress management is an important component of tobacco de-addiction along with regular exercise, replacing tobacco use behavior with another activity and India lifestyle modification strategies.
As aforesaid by Dr. Kapoor, some doctors recommend medicines to combat tobacco addictions. There are some hypertension drugs as well as antidepressants which can help in controlling nicotine cravings.
Varenicline (Chantix) is a commonly prescribed medication.
Some doctors also prescribe an antidepressant named Bupropion or Wellbutrin. This drug reduces your urge to smoke thereby effective for smoking cessation. This is an off-label drug that is approved by the FDA for some other reason but it is used for any other purpose which isn’t clinically approved. But a doctor can prescribe this as it is up to doctors how they treat their patients. Therefore, medical professionals have the liberty to prescribe a drug as per their knowledge and what works best for the patient. Take up this tobacco quiz to see how well do you know about this addiction.
Other Tobacco Addiction Control Methods
There are several other methods to control nicotine and tobacco addiction with good success rates. These are:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT
- Neuro-linguistic programming
Basically, these are therapies that help in altering the person’s behavior or feelings towards tobacco and nicotine. As your brain starts to consider them as unimportant or not useful, this would help you to get control over your cravings sooner.
Sometimes. A combination of treatments is required to bring the change. It is best to consult a doctor as only he/she can suggest the best treatment for you.
Tips to prevent smoking relapse
Tobacco is heavily damaging to health. This addiction can lead a person to various life-threatening health issues such as:
- Heart diseases
- Cancer of mouth, throat and lungs
- Chronic lung diseases
- Brain stroke
All of these conditions are fatal and it is impossible to reverse the damage. The only possible way to counteract is quitting tobacco and nicotine.
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