Tobacco addiction is the compulsive seeking and use of tobacco products despite adverse health consequences. Nicotine is the main addictive substance in several forms of tobacco. Recognizing the signs that are indicative of the condition is crucial in getting prompt treatment.
The symptoms of tobacco addiction include the need for greater amounts of tobacco to feel good or normal, multiple unsuccessful attempts to quit smoking, powerful urges to smoke, avoidance of activities or events where smoking is prohibited, and persistent tobacco use despite health problems.
Nicotine addiction can be very hard to manage, especially without professional help. The most commonly used treatments for tobacco addiction are medications and counseling. Both treatment modalities have been proven to be effective, especially when used in combination.
If you are a smoker, you may already be aware of the bad effects of tobacco on your health. You might even know people who have died from the complications of smoking. But despite all that, you cannot stop smoking. This is because nicotine is believed to be as addictive as cocaine, and it gets to your brain only within a few seconds. When attempting to cut back on smoking, the brain has to adjust to the absence of nicotine, making it harder for many smokers to completely quit.
If you have withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop, you are dealing with tobacco addiction. When you are going through nicotine withdrawal, your body is trying to adapt to the lack of tobacco and other chemicals in cigarettes. Tobacco addiction withdrawal symptoms may manifest in physical and psychological ways and may include irritability, nicotine cravings, trouble concentrating, increased appetite, diarrhea, and depression.
The health consequences of tobacco are not limited to one’s heart and lungs. Because nicotine rapidly spreads throughout the body, it can also damage other areas of the body, including one’s skin, mouth, hands, feet, bones, and even reproductive system. However, some people still find it hard to quit smoking even with the knowledge of health problems. This is because over time, afflicted people do not only become physically dependent on the substance but psychologically dependent as well.
Someone who struggles with tobacco addiction may avoid social gatherings or events where smoking is prohibited. They may also avoid seeing family members or friends during activities where they know they cannot freely smoke. Tobacco addicts are likely to spend more time at home than usual in order to fuel their addiction.
A complex interplay of multiple factors can cause the disorder. The factors that increase a person’s chances of developing a tobacco addiction are listed below.
Tobacco can have a wide array of adverse effects on the body. The most common complications of tobacco addiction on one’s health are listed below.
Certain treatment modalities have been proven to be effective against the condition. Some treatments recommended by doctors for individuals battling tobacco addiction are listed below.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) provides nicotine in the form of patches, gums, inhalers, lozenges, or nasal sprays, minus the other harmful chemicals in tobacco. NRT helps decrease nicotine cravings and some physical withdrawal symptoms. Evidence also exists that NRT products can double one’s chances of quitting smoking. Antidepressants may also be prescribed for those who have an addiction to smoking. These medications may relieve depressive symptoms that could result from nicotine withdrawal.
Medications deal with the physical dependence, but not the psychological aspects of quitting. Giving up smoking for good and overcoming tobacco addiction requires the help of counseling so that afflicted people develop necessary coping skills to better manage cravings and stress that could result in relapse.
Although they have been promoted as a quit smoking aid, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as smoking cessation tools. Evidence also exists that e-cigarette users whose goal is to kick the nicotine habit ended up using both traditional and e-cigarettes instead of quitting. Furthermore, there is no such thing as a safe tobacco product. All forms of tobacco contain nicotine, and usage can lead to addiction and resulting complications. Other tobacco options that are equally harmful and addictive include smokeless tobacco, cigars, pipes, kreteks, bidis, and hookahs (waterpipes).
The most effective treatment options for tobacco addiction are medications and counseling, or a combination of both. In fact, there is evidence that a combination of behavioral therapy and medication produces higher smoking quit rates than either treatment approach alone.
While medications aid in easing withdrawal symptoms and cravings, behavioral treatments aid in identifying triggers, modifying routines, and learning relapse-prevention skills, so people can avoid smoking when confronted with triggers and stressful life events.
Ahmed Zayed, MD, is a physician, an author, and a fitness lover, and he has a deep-seated desire to assist others in leading happier and more fulfilling lives.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed, who received his degree in medicine and surgery from the University of Alexandria, is committed to sharing his expertise with his audience and believes that readers deserve accurate information.
Dr. Zayed has the ability to explain difficult ideas in a way that a layperson can understand while still incorporating a scientific perspective into the discussions that surround those ideas.