|First, congratulate yourself. Just reading this article is a big step toward becoming tobacco-free. Many people don’t quit smoking because they think it’s too hard, and it’s true that for most people quitting isn’t easy. After all, the nicotine in cigarettes is a powerfully addictive drug. But with the right approach, you can overcome the cravings.|
Tobacco is one of the most widely abused substances in the world. It is highly addictive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that tobacco causes 6 million deaths per year. This makes tobacco the leading cause of preventable death.
Nicotine is the main addictive chemical in tobacco. It causes a rush of adrenaline when absorbed in the bloodstream or inhaled via cigarette smoke. Nicotine also triggers an increase in dopamine. This is sometimes referred to as the brain’s “happy” chemical.
Dopamine stimulates the area of the brain associated with pleasure and reward. Like any other drug, use of tobacco over time can cause a physical and psychological addiction. This is also true for smokeless forms of tobacco, such as snuff and chewing tobacco. Research’s show about 70 percent of all adult smokers said they wanted to stop smoking. A tobacco addiction is harder to hide than other addictions. This is largely because tobacco is legal, easily obtained, and can be consumed in public. Some people can smoke socially or occasionally, but others become addicted. An addiction may be present if the person:
There are many treatments available for tobacco addiction. However, this addiction can be very difficult to manage. Many users find that even after nicotine cravings have passed, the ritual of smoking can lead to a relapse.
There are several different treatment options for those battling a tobacco addiction:
The patch is known as a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). It’s a small, bandage-like sticker that you apply to your arm or back. The patch delivers low levels of nicotine to the body. This helps gradually wean the body off it.
Another form of NRT, nicotine gum can help people who need the oral fixation of smoking or chewing. This is common, as people who are quitting smoking may have the urge to put something into their mouths. The gum also delivers small doses of nicotine to help the you manage cravings.
Spray or inhaler
Nicotine sprays and inhalers can help by giving low doses of nicotine without tobacco use. These are sold over the counter and are widely available. The spray is inhaled, sending nicotine into the lungs.
Some doctors recommend the use of medication to help with tobacco addictions. Certain antidepressants or high blood pressure drugs might be able to help manage cravings. One medication that’s commonly used is varenicline (Chantix). Some doctors prescribe bupropion (Wellbutrin). This is an antidepressant that’s used off-label for smoking cessation because it can decrease your desire to smoke.
Tobacco addiction can be managed with proper treatment. Addiction to tobacco is similar to other drug addictions in that it’s never really cured. In other words, it is something that you will have to deal with for the rest of your life.
Tobacco users tend to have high relapse rates. It’s estimated that about 75 percent of people who quit smoking relapse within the first six months. A longer treatment period or change in approach may prevent a future relapse.
Research has also shown that altering lifestyle habits, such as avoiding situations where there will be other tobacco users or implementing a positive behavior (like exercising) when cravings start can help improve chances for recovery.