When you hear the term nicotine addiction, your mind automatically turns towards cigarettes. Although this is one of the main sources for nicotine addiction, there are other products that contain the liquid as well. It can also be found in e cigarettes, snuff, chewing tobacco and cigars.
Nicotine is a chemical that is made by many different plant types. It can be produced synthetically and is highly addictive. Nicotine causes withdrawal symptoms such as, depression, moodiness and anxiety when a person stops ingesting it. Nicotine is also typically used in insecticides and pesticides. It raises the heart rate in both humans and animals which can lead to a multitude of illnesses and heart problems.
According to the American Heart Association, nicotine addiction is one of the hardest to break and has similar neurological effects on the body as that of heroin and cocaine. Approximately nine percent of Americans are addicted to nicotine and another one hundred twenty six million are regularly exposed to nicotine through second hand smoke. It is the leading cause of preventable diseases related to the heart and lungs.
But how does nicotine work? What makes it so irresistible? Nicotine reaches the brain in about ten seconds after being inhaled from a cigarette. If ingesting nicotine from snuff or chewing tobacco, it takes a bit longer. Once it has reached the brain, nicotine works to raise the levels of dopamine in the body, thus raising the perceived feeling of pleasure that the body has. Tobacco users require many uses of their desired product because the pleasure will only last a few minutes.
Nicotine works to give the user a burst of energy which also raises the blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. It releases a rush of adrenaline and controls the regions of the brain that determine motivation and happiness. At the same time, however, it can act as a sedative and make the person feel relaxed and calm.
According to a 2007 report by the UK’s Royal College of Physicians, nicotine is five to ten times more potent than cocaine or morphine in producing behavioral and psychological effects associated with addiction. Nicotine addiction is the second leading cause of death worldwide. Each year nearly 450,000 Americans die from the addiction, many of those from secondhand smoke.
The best way to avoid the problems of nicotine is to stop using the product. There are many ways to accomplish this feat, but some require assistance in order to quit. Only about four to seven percent are able to stop without some sort of assistance.
One option is to quit “cold turkey”. This, of course, would be the desired method, but unfortunately nicotine, like any drug, offers withdrawal symptoms when quitting. Symptoms may last for weeks or months, but many of the major issues usually begin subsiding after the first couple of weeks. However, you may still have cravings further down the road and several months after quitting.
Another option is a nicotine patch. These come in multiple levels and allow you to lower your nicotine intake of the an extended period of time. They are placed directly onto the skin and nicotine is released into the skin. Patches have been shown to double ones chances of stopping smoking. They are intended to be used for an eight or ten week period depending on the program chosen.
Nicotine gum is also available to help curb ones cravings for the drug. Unlike the patch, which has a specific system, nicotine gum is intended to be used only when a strong craving develops. Gum has about the same results as the patch, but it may be harder to control. Without having a specified plan, it may be difficult to lower your nicotine intake or stop altogether when using gum.
Some medications are also available to help end nicotine addiction. Some medications will help to ease the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and make it easier for a person to quit. They are classified as anti-depressants that target the area of the brain that nicotine effects. Scientists are also working on a vaccine that fights nicotine addiction.
For some, therapy may help when stopping smoking or using tobacco. Many of the reasons people use tobacco is due to a behavioral problem that they are witnessing. Counseling will help find the root of the issue and help the person to control it and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
One new form of nicotine addiction aid is e-cigarettes. These were first developed in 1963 by Herbert Gilbert. These devices work the same way cigarettes do, except they do not contain many of the harmful effects of cigarettes. Like patches, e-cigarettes come with a variety of levels for nicotine intake. This will allow the person to step down their nicotine intake as they feel comfortable. E-cigarettes also come in a variety of flavors which makes them more desirable as well.
However, e-cigarettes are still in the infancy of development. Little research has been conducted that determines the health risks of these devices. Research conducted by the makers of e-cigarettes shows the only health risk to be that of the nicotine itself and no effects of secondhand smoke. However, these have not been researched by the FDA and are less regulated than the other methods.
When trying to remove the addiction from your life, try some mental methods to help you succeed. Find other things that will stimulate your happiness. Try to keep yourself distracted when your cravings most often happen. Try different types of candies or mints when a craving does occur. This may help you get through the craving. Remember that a craving typically only lasts for ten to fifteen minutes. Taking a walk or a bathroom break may help to alleviate the pressure during this time.
Nicotine addiction can be a lifelong issue. To stop, you must commit to a lifestyle change and, even so, may still fall back into using the drug again later. Whichever method that you choose you should follow the instructions carefully for your best chance of success.