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Nicotine Dependence

Overview

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance found in tobacco. Many people, especially those who smoke cigarettes, find it hard to quit using them. The craving for nicotine is called nicotine dependence. The more you smoke, the higher the craving.

Nicotine use traps people in a vicious circle that keeps them wanting for more. Medical counselling and nicotine replacement therapy help curb the addiction. However, results depend on how willing the individual is to drop the habit. Continue reading to find the necessary details.

About nicotine dependence

Nicotine dependence is a condition in which your body constantly demands nicotine. And when you fail to meet its demands, your body may show withdrawal symptoms like irritability, anger, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, frustration, constipation and more.

Nicotine dependence makes your body accustomed to using this chemical substance. You develop a constant urge to smoke, and smoking becomes a part of your daily routine. 

What is the major cause of nicotine dependence?

Smoking is the prime cause that makes people addicted to nicotine. Frequent consumption of tobacco products may lead to nicotine dependence.

Nicotine releases dopamine in the body, giving feelings of euphoria. The improved mood and happy feelings make it addictive  for many.

Symptoms that show you may be addicted to nicotine include the following:

  • Inability to quit smoking
  • Unable to stop consuming tobacco
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you do not use nicotine
  • Continuous urge to smoke
  • Becoming antisocial and avoiding gatherings

When to see a doctor?

Nicotine addiction can be challenging to deal with. If you want to quit smoking, you not only have to change your routine, but you also have to have a strong determination.

If you cannot give up on smoking or using other tobacco products, you must talk to a doctor. A thorough treatment plan, some medicines, and expert counseling will turn your unsuccessful attempts into victory.

Request an appointment at Apollo Hospitals

Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment

What are the risk factors that lead to increased nicotine use?

Factors that are likely to cause nicotine addiction include,

  • Young age (usually teenagers or younger)
  • Genetics
  • Parents and peers who smoke 
  • Mental health problems
  • Substance abuse

Complications caused by nicotine dependence

Tobacco smoke has more than 60 known cancer causing chemicals including thousands of other harmful substances. Even herbal or ‘all natural’ cigarettes have harmful chemicals.

Addiction to nicotine leads to various complications that may include,

Lung cancer and lung disease:

Smoking is one of the leading cause of lung cancer deaths. Smoking raises the risk of most types of cancer, including cancer of the throat (pharynx), mouth, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, bladder, cervix, kidney and few types of leukemia. In all, smoking causes 30 percent of all cancer deaths.

  • Lung diseases like COPD and worsening of asthma 
  • Heart problems
  • Infertility and impotence
  • Eye problems like cataracts and loss of eyesight from macular degeneration.
  • Pregnancy complications such as preterm and low birth weight babies 
  • Tooth and gum problems
  • Diabetes
  • Cold, flu and other diseases: Smokers are more like to get respiratory infections like , such as colds, the flu and bronchitis.
  • Tooth and gum disease.

How is nicotine addiction treated?

Certain medications and support groups have been found helpful in coping with nicotine addiction.

Medication: Nicotine replacement therapy via gums, nasal sprays, inhalers, patches, or lozenges alleviates nicotine cravings. While some medicines require a prescription, others do not.

These medicines may have side effects, so it is better to take them under medical supervision.

Counselling: Support groups are one of the best methods to cut down nicotine dependence. You will learn techniques to help you stop smoking and control your withdrawal symptoms. Counselling guarantees better results and makes you quit tobacco for good.

E-cigarettes or electronic cigarettes have not proved to be safe nor are they more effective in helping people stop smoking than nicotine replacement medicines.

It is not a good idea to substitute another type of tobacco use for smoking. Tobacco in any form is not safe. 

Conclusion

Smoking and tobacco use are the biggest causes of nicotine addiction. Addicted smokers who stop taking nicotine experience withdrawal symptoms. But, with proper treatment, it is possible to get better. If you want to develop a treatment plan that will work for you, 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are some of the drugs that help in quitting smoking?

Bupropion and varenicline help in quitting smoking but are available on prescription only. Others may include nicotine nasal spray, inhaler, patch, lozenge — also available on prescription.

What are common triggers for smoking?

Common triggers include,

  • Taking tea breaks at work with fellow smokers
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Talking on the phone
  • Spending time with friends who smoke
  • Driving

Why is it so hard to quit smoking?

It is because tobacco is the largest source of nicotine. A single puff releases dopamine (a happy hormone) and makes you feel good. It is what makes it hard to quit. Moreover, smoking is a big part of your life. But don’t worry, there are ways to cope with nicotine dependence and quit smoking.

  • Make a list of situations that trigger you to reach out for a cigarette
  • Make a note of symptoms that occur when you don’t consume nicotine
  • Prepare a list of any medicines you are taking (supplements, herbs, others)
  • Invite a friend or family member with you

Is it possible to relapse to nicotine?

In some cases, yes. Stress, weight gain, withdrawal symptoms may make a person use nicotine again. Relapse often occurs within the first few weeks or months after you decide to quit. However, the good news is that you can overcome the cravings.

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