Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine is the physically addictive compound found in cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff. It is also present in varying concentrations in vaporizers and vape pens such as Juul. Nicotine provides physical and mood effects that are pleasing in the short term, but often lead to dependence / nicotine addiction.

Nicotine is extremely fast acting, triggering dopamine in the brain within seconds when inhaled. However, once nicotine is no longer present in the brain, that feeling disappears and is replaced by symptoms of withdrawal. This process traps users in a cycle of addiction as they use more nicotine to keep the pleasurable feeling and avoid the negative feelings of withdrawal.

Nicotine is highly addictive.

According to Harvard Medical School, only 3% of smokers successfully quit each year, even though 70% of smokers say they’d like to stop.

If you or a loved one are exhibiting the following symptoms, it may be a sign of nicotine addiction/dependence:

  • An inability to stop using nicotine, despite serious attempts to stop.
  • Stopping nicotine use causes withdrawal symptoms including, cravings, restlessness, anger, anxiety irritability, trouble concentrating, frustration, insomnia, increased hunger, constipation or diarrhea.
  • Continuing to use nicotine despite developing nicotine-related health problems.
  • Giving up social or recreational activities to use nicotine, including avoiding places where nicotine use is not allowed.

Like most addictions, there are physical and behavioral triggers for nicotine addiction. Therefore, using nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches, gum or lozenges, may not be enough to address dependence. Indeed, vaporizers are often marketed as a form of nicotine replacement therapy, but many people continue to use them, and some vaporizer users have never smoked.

Many nicotine users develop behavioral patterns and triggers that cause certain situations to become closely associated with smoking. For instance, certain social situations, times of high stress, certain individuals or locations, or even just seeing/smelling a cigarette can trigger the desire to smoke for some people. By becoming aware of and managing these triggers, you can take control of them. Everyone has different behavioral triggers, some of which we may not even be aware of.

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can possibly do for your heath. Tobacco accounts for 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S.

Tobacco has been shown to cause lung cancer and lung disease. It can also cause numerous other cancers, and smoking is responsible for 30% of all cancer deaths. Smoking also damages your heart, circulatory system, and eyes. Relatedly, smoking increases the risk of impotence for men and reduces fertility in women. Smoking also increases insulin resistance and can both lead to and complicate diabetes. These are just a few of the many well-documented health harms of smoking.

Nicotine vaporizers, or “vapes” are a relatively new technology, and therefore less is known about the long-term health impacts of vaping. While they reduce the amount of smoke users are exposed to, they still deliver high amounts of nicotine and can lead to addiction. There have also been documented cases of immediate, devastating lung damage caused by vaporizers. These lung injuries have necessitated lung transplants and even resulted in deaths.

Individually-tailored therapy is critical as coping techniques that work for some are the worst strategies for others.

For instance, some people benefit from putting themselves in the types of situations where cravings are most likely to occur and resisting, thereby training themselves to change their response. On the other hand, other people find it best to avoid those types of situations entirely. By developing an individualized plan that is tailored to your triggers, Nancy Hilsenrath can help you conquer your nicotine dependence.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a nicotine addiction, Nancy Hilsenrath can help set you on the path to recovery.

Nancy Hilsenrath LCSW, CASAC, SAP(718) 551-2777 EMAIL NANCY TODAY

Therapy for nicotine addiction – Long Island and Queens, New York residents.
COUNSELING LOCATIONS: West Hempstead, NY, Douglaston, NY, Hewlett, NY