Nicotine is the common addictive ingredient in all forms of smoking or smokeless tobacco. Nicotine is a chemical that is both a stimulant and a sedative. It causes both a physical and psychological addiction.

Definitions:

Psychological dependence means that the person affected has a strong emotional need for the drug nicotine. The nicotine is needed for you to function normally or optimally. Physical dependence (addiction) means that the person needs the drug to prevent an adverse reaction due to not receiving the stimulation effect from the nicotine. If the nicotine is witheld, the body experiences one or more unpleasant or painful symptoms of withdrawal. Nicotine is dangerous and causes diseases such as lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and stroke.
Nicotine creates pleasure in the brain, causes a feeling of relaxation, and elevates your mood. Over time, the nicotine increases the amount of drug that is needed to provide the sense of feeling good. Consequently, more of the nicotine is required than previously to produce that feeling again. The strong craving for tobacco and nicotine can last for over 6 months or more after quitting. Often, in addition to the effect of nicotine; the feel, sight, and smell of tobacco; and the ritual of handling, lighting, and smoking tobacco are very pleasurable.

Signs of Nicotine Addiction:
If you are unable to stop or reduce your use of nicotine even though you know it is harmful for you, you are addicted.
When you stop using nicotine, you may have withdrawal symptoms such as:

 

  • Irritability
  • Shakiness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased craving for nicotine

 

Treatment:
You must give up nicotine completely. This means stopping all forms of nicotine: cigars, cigarettes, pipes, or chewing tobacco. Your healthcare provider can prescribe nicotine replacements that can almost double your chances of achieving permanent abstinence from nicotine use. Nicotine replacements include lozenges, patches, nasal inhalers and sprays. Zyban (bupropion) and Chantix (varenicline) are medications that lessen the craving or blunt the excitatory effects of nicotine. Hypnosis and acupuncture are complementary approaches with demonstrated success in treatment of tobacco addiction. Joining an organized local quit-tobacco program and support group is also essential for success.

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