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One of The Most Addictive Substances
For most of us, sneaking a cigarette in junior high school was a rite of passage. Kids, wanting to appear cool or act grown up, might look at cigarettes as a status symbol that gives them street cred. For teens, just the fact that the product is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 makes it a kind of forbidden fruit, only enhancing its attraction. For the majority of young people who puffed on a smoke or two, or a took a try at vaping or hookah, likely ended their experience with nicotine before age 18.
However, for an estimated 34 million U.S. adults, or 14 out of every 100, nicotine use did not end in the teen years. Instead, these individuals became addicted to the effects of nicotine, regardless of the highly publicized health risks and warnings associated with these products. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, and very difficult to overcome without the help of a substance and nicotine addiction treatment center.
Incorporating smoking cessation into treatment programs for mental health or substance abuse can not only help the individual quit smoking, but it can actually improve the overall success of the treatment outcome. According to an article published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, “Smoking cessation during substance abuse treatment: What you need to know,” the authors found that integrating a smoking cessation element into an inpatient treatment program empowered clients to conquer both addictions while focusing on making positive lifestyle changes.
About Nicotine Addiction
According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S., attributed to 480,000 deaths each year. The CDC further states that for every death related to smoking, there are 30 people living with a smoking-related health condition.
Tobacco use is highly addictive. Smoking becomes a compulsive behavior as the result of the effects of nicotine—a surge of endorphins lighting up the reward center of the brain. Increased levels of the “feel good” neurotransmitter, dopamine, in these reward circuits causes the brain to reinforce the smoking behavior. The effects of the nicotine, such as brief euphoria, dissipate quickly, leading to repeated use. As the smoking behavior continues, the brain becomes more sensitive to the dopamine rush, resulting in alterations related to how the brain manages stress, learning, and self-control. Over time, this process leads to nicotine addiction.
Signs of Nicotine Addiction
There are common signs of nicotine addiction, such as:
- Needing to smoke more often to feel satisfied
- Having a desire to quit but are unable to do so
- Cravings and tobacco urges
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when nicotine is withheld
- Continued nicotine use despite the negative consequences
Once the body has become accustomed to the usual input of nicotine in the system, they will notice withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to cut back or quit smoking.
Health Risks Associated With Smoking
Nicotine addiction is associated with many negative health risks. In fact, smoking harms almost every organ in the body. The nicotine itself does not cause cancer, however it causes addiction to the tobacco that, when it burns, emits about 69 carcinogenic chemicals. This results in cancer rates among smokers as double the rate of nonsmokers.
Cancers attributed to smoking include:
- Lung cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Oral cancer
Other health conditions associated with smoking include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Heart disease
- Vascular disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Impaired immune function
Fortunately, quitting smoking allows the body to regenerate, and many of these health risks will dissipate within a couple of years of abstinence. However, quitting smoking is very difficult without the assistance of professional help found through mental health or substance use and nicotine addiction treatment centers. These programs treat the primary disorder, a mental health disorder or a substance use disorder, and co-occurring nicotine addiction.
How to Stop Smoking at Nicotine Addiction Treatment Centers
Being treated for co-occurring disorders, smoking with a substance use or mental health disorder, at substance and nicotine addiction treatment centers will involve a smoking cessation protocol that will be integrated into the treatment plan for the primary disorder. There are specialized programs that are equipped to manage treating both disorders simultaneously. Many clients will be enthusiastic about conquering both issues at the same time, and will be guided by experts who are trained to provide this treatment for a dual diagnosis.
Treatment for the smoking habit will rely on a combination of medications and psychotherapy that focuses on behavioral treatment.
- Nicotine replacement therapy allows the individual to taper off the smoking by replacing the nicotine through the use of a patch, gum, lozenge, nasal spray (Nicotrol NS), or inhaler (Nicotrol). These medications are to begin the day you have decided to discontinue smoking. These products provide some of the effects of the nicotine without the dangerous smoke, and help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
- Non-nicotine medications are often used in conjunction with the nicotine replacement medications to improve success. These medications include Zyban, Chantix, and Pamelor.
- Antidepressants may also be helpful
- Motivational Interviewing
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Contingency Management
- Mindfulness exercises
- Relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, massage
After Completing a Program at Nicotine Addiction Treatment Centers
Completing the residential treatment program is a great first step toward quitting smoking, however, nicotine addiction is a relapsing disease and requires vigilance in order to maintain abstinence. After treatment, individuals in recovery should continue with ongoing outpatient therapy sessions, as well as consider joining a smoking recovery community or group, and accessing digital apps, all which will help reinforce abstinence.
The Treatment Specialist Online Resource for Smoking Cessation Programs
The Treatment Specialist is a trusted online resource for important information regarding substance use disorders and mental health disorders. The team will guide you by providing treatment options that include programs that specialize in treating co-occurring nicotine addiction. For more information about smoking cessation programs, please contact a Treatment Specialist today at (866) 644-7911.