Nicotine is naturally occurring in the tobacco plant itself and is both a powerful, yet subtle, addictive substance. Moreover, and troublingly, some tobacco products include additives to increase nicotine absorption, making them even more addictive.
Like alcohol, and often considered a complement to it by many drinkers, nicotine is readily available at almost any convenient store, gas station, grocery store and beyond in the form of cigarettes and vaping products. Most often right at the point of sale so it’s the very last thing you see before paying. Tempting those who are hooked even more.
Nicotine is naturally occurring in the tobacco plant itself and is both a powerful, yet subtle, addictive substance. Highly addictive in fact, but because it doesn’t bring with it the intense, debilitating and visceral highs of other drugs, nicotine is seen as “acceptable”. Moreover, and troublingly, some tobacco products include additives to increase nicotine absorption, making them even more addictive.
While the effects of the drug are altogether less intense than other drugs or alcohol, that doesn’t stop it from slowly wreaking havoc on a user’s body. So much so that, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States with nearly 500,000 Americans dying every year including 41,000 deaths from secondhand smoke which is without a doubt the most striking of the nicotine facts.
Additionally, smokers live 10 years less than nonsmokers. On top of that, smoking is connected to many other issues with more than 16 million in the U.S. living with a disease caused by smoking, everything from cancer to heart and lung disease to emphysema and more.
Aside from the gargantuan human toll that it takes, smoking also has a vast economic impact with the cost of it running more than $300 billion a year, $170 billion of that related directly to medical care.
What keeps people hooked in spite of the clear dangers? Nicotine.
That’s how powerful the drug is.
Among the most unfortunate aspects of nicotine addiction is the age at which it sinks its talons into people. Each and every day, roughly 2,000 people under the age of 18 will smoke their first cigarette and of those, 300 will become daily smokers. To bring that into stark relief, nearly 9 out of 10 adults who currently smoke daily first tried smoking by the age of 18 and 99% tried by age 26.
Vaping hasn’t helped either with 39% of high school seniors having tried it in the past year.
Given that, there’s little doubt you’ve seen anti-smoking ads and public service announcement campaigns warning you of the dangers of tobacco.
Perhaps you’ve even seen the graphic images of decimated lungs, destroyed teeth and more staring back at you from the packaging showing those dangers in stark images. The United States has trailed other countries in this approach due to the powerful tobacco lobby but it will likely soon be commonplace on packaging in America as well.
For good reason, research supports the idea that “larger, graphic health warnings that convey loss-framed messages as most effective in communicating health risks to U.S. adults”.
On a positive note, less than 14% of adults in the United States currently smoke which is down from 43% in 1965. Nonetheless though, that means that roughly 34 million people smoke, still an eye popping and astonishing amount.
And quitting is hard, arduous work too that is often marked by repeated failures before finally overcoming the addiction. Despite the fact that nearly 7 in 10 smokers want to quit, only 6% are actually able to do it in any given year.
At Thrive Treatment℠ we accept most private insurance plans and we are in network with Cigna, MHN Health Net, First Health, and Anthem Blue Cross. Additional payment options are available so don’t hesitate to give us a call so we can get you the help that you need.
As already discussed, nicotine is seriously addictive.
What happens in the brain when you take it is best explained by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); “a transient surge of endorphins in the reward circuits of the brain causes a slight, brief euphoria when nicotine is administered. This surge is much briefer than the “high” associated with other drugs. However, like other drugs of abuse, nicotine increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in these reward circuits which reinforces the behavior of taking the drug”.
To put it more simply, the brain releases those “feel good” chemicals every time you ingest nicotine and as your body gets used to a certain amount of them, you need to take more and more to get that same feeling.
That, in turns, leads to smoking more and more and more each day, as the NIDA adds, “When cigarette smoke enters the lungs, nicotine is absorbed rapidly in the blood and delivered quickly to the brain, so that nicotine levels peak within 10 seconds of inhalation. But the acute effects of nicotine also dissipate quickly, along with the associated feelings of reward; this rapid cycle causes the smoker to continue dosing to maintain the drug’s pleasurable effects and prevent withdrawal symptoms”.
This leads to the signs of nicotine addiction:
As far as withdrawal goes, it may not be as severe as hard drugs but they certainly do cause enough discomfort to ensure a person keeps re-upping their nicotine and the symptoms are:
The consequences of prolonged nicotine use, by way of smoking, can be absolutely devastating with a whole host of associated health risks. To restate the directness of outcomes first though, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
Given that cigarettes are filled with poisonous carcinogens, smoking is directly connected to many different types of cancer and causes 9 out of 10 cases of lung cancer. Worse yet is that the poisons found in cigarette smoke actually weaken the body’s immune system as well as making it more difficult to fight cancer.
Heart disease and stroke are tied to smoking as well and causes 1 in 4 deaths related to cardiovascular disease.
Seeing as how the lungs take the brunt of the damage from smoking, it’s no surprise that smoking is the leading cause of COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema and accounts for 8 in 10 COPD-related deaths.
Tragically, on top of making it more difficult for women to get pregnant, smoking puts babies at risk for birth defects.
Nicotine addiction treatment is handled similarly to any other type of addiction.
Because addiction is a mental illness and there is a similar mechanism at work no matter the substance. Smoking may not produce an effect as intense as methamphetamines, for example, but the mental side of why a person is addicted to either substance is related.
Through individual and group therapy sessions in a supportive environment, we can help you identify the cause of your nicotine addiction as well as work with you to develop strategies to get you past the triggers and memories that lead you to continued use.
Not only is quitting good for your health, both physically and mentally, but you’ll also be saving yourself quite a bit of money. If you smoke a pack a day at $6.28 (the national average for a pack of cigarettes), you’ll save over $2,200 per year by beating your addiction.
If you’ve had enough and want to break free from the hold of nicotine, reach out to us at Thrive Treatment and let’s work together so you can breathe easy again.