Facts About Tobacco and Nicotine Addiction

Tobacco is included in the list of most abused substances worldwide since it’s extremely addictive. Based on the records of the National Health Service, 78,000 people pass away every year in the UK because of this substance. Individuals who are dependent on nicotine live with debilitating diseases caused by smoking.

Nicotine is found in tobacco and it’s the reason why people are lured into addiction. This substance can increase dopamine production, which is a “happiness chemical” present in the human brain. Furthermore, it stimulates the pleasure centres in the brain.

Tobacco as a drug builds up psychological and physical addiction over time. There’s no difference in the effects whether you smoke, sniff, or chew it. In the UK, 60% of smokers wish to quit smoking and 10% want to achieve it in three-month times.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell if someone is addicted to nicotine? 

Tobacco addiction is not something that one needs to hide. Cigarettes can be obtained with ease, are fully legal, and can be consumed in public with some restrictions. Some people smoke occasionally or socially, but some are addicted. You’ll know that someone is addicted to nicotine by looking for the following behaviours:

  • Difficulty in quitting smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shaky hands, irritability, and sweating when attempting to quit
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco after meals or after a meeting, seeing a movie, and other activities
  • Tobacco is one way of making them feel normal
  • Won’t attend events or activities if tobacco consumption is prohibited
  • Doesn’t stop smoking despite prevailing health problems

What methods can be used to treat nicotine addiction? 

There are several treatments to eliminate tobacco and nicotine addiction. Some consumers find that the urge becomes more irresistible after the cravings have passed. You can always be persistent in combating tobacco and nicotine addiction by sticking with these treatments:

Patch

This patch is also known as NRT or nicotine replacement therapy. It’s like a combination of a sticker and bandage that you can put on your back or arm. There’s a low level of nicotine in it. This amount will allow you to gradually learn to live without nicotine.

Nicotine gum

People who prefer oral fixation settle for this type of NRT. It’s popular among smokers as they want to put something in their mouths instead of tobacco. A bit of nicotine is added to the gum to pacify the cravings.

Inhaler or spray

The inhaler or spray contains a bit of nicotine. So, you will be given a teeny weeny taste of the substance without consuming tobacco. It’s widely available and can be bought over the counter. You inhale from the spray and the nicotine proceeds to the lungs.

Medications

Doctors approve of medications that can combat nicotine addiction. Medication for high blood pressure or some antidepressants is the ideal candidate for suppressing cravings. Varenicline Chantix is commonly used in treating nicotine addiction. Bupropion Wellbutrin is also prescribed by some doctors as it’s an antidepressant. 

If you’re unfamiliar with off-label drugs, they’re approved by MHRA for a specific purpose but used differently without consensus. The agency regulates the testing and approval of medicines. However, doctors have the right to prescribe medicine that is needed by their patients.

Treatments based on the psychological and behavioural aspects

Cognitive-behavioural therapy, hypnotherapy, and neuro-linguistic programming prove to be effective in overcoming nicotine addiction. These methods made a big difference in the thoughts of users towards addictions. They function to change your feelings and behaviours that are linked to tobacco use. A combination of methods is sometimes needed when treating this addiction. A certain method can be effective for someone but the other person needs a different one. You should have a thorough discussion with your doctor about it.

Is nicotine addiction permanent? 

Nicotine addiction can be controlled by the appropriate treatment. It’s the same with other kinds of drug addiction as you have to deal with it in your entire lifetime. This is based on the high relapse rates of tobacco consumers. According to statistics, 75% of individuals who attempted to quit smoking tend to relapse in a matter of six months. You may also give yourself more time for treatments or try a different approach to avoid relapse.

Changing one’s lifestyle can also contribute to quitting tobacco. Be determined in keeping yourself away from situations where you’ll be tempted to smoke. Instead of failing to resist your cravings, you can create a healthier lifestyle by doing some exercise.

What does a nicotine addiction feel like? 

Nicotine is an extremely addictive substance that is abundantly found in the tobacco plant. Its physical and mental effects make the user crave it. Nicotine addiction is considered behavioural, thus, users become fond of activities that involve tobacco. The consumption becomes habitual like having it after meals or seeing it as a stress reliever.

This addictive chemical can be obtained by inhaling the smoke of tobacco. It can be in the form of a cigar and consumption can be assisted by a pipe. You may also take the smokeless form which is powdered and inhaled through the nose or ingested. 

Based on the latest data gathered from 2018 to 2019, 506,100 patients were admitted to the hospital because of smoking. There’s a total of 710,000 prescribed items given to those who are addicted to nicotine. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve depended on nicotine. You always have the chance to quit for the sake of your health.

What are the health hazards of nicotine? 

The wonderful feeling that nicotine gives physically and mentally is undeniable. It happens when you consume tobacco because dopamine, a feeling-good chemical is released. Under its spell, you’ll feel content and pleased. Behind this ecstatic experience, harmful chemicals and cancer-causing agents lurk. There are 4,000 chemicals found in tobacco that affect users physically, mentally, and psychologically aside from nicotine.

Thus, nicotine addiction can bring out serious health problems such as:

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Cancer (respiratory system)
  • Cold, flu, and respiratory complications
  • Diabetes
  • Emphysema
  • Eye issues like macular degeneration and cataract
  • Gum disease and teeth problems
  • Impotence
  • Infertility
  • Leukaemia
  • Loss of sense of smell and taste
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriage and pregnancy issues
  • Osteoporosis
  • Peptic ulcer disease
  • Premature ageing
  • Stroke

Secondhand smoking is also a danger to a person’s health. It can give you heart disease and lung cancer. Experts said that children who are exposed to secondhand smoking are likely to have the following:

  • Asthma
  • Ear infection
  • Other illnesses
  • Respiratory infection
  • Unexpected infant death syndrome

How does nicotine make you addicted? 

Since nicotine is from the tobacco plant, smoking it and consuming other tobacco products can develop an addiction. Many get addicted to it even though the usage is not frequent. Patches, nicotine gums, or lozenges are recommended to help you in your path to quitting. Sadly, these things can still kindle nicotine addiction. Despite the small amount of nicotine, the build-up can go slow and still, make someone addicted to it.

Does everyone who smokes get addicted? 

Everyone who tries smoking tobacco can fall prey to nicotine. Ultimately, you must not have a taste of it even once. It’s hard to go back once you come to like it. Some factors can increase the possibility of addiction. People who grew up with people who consume tobacco or those with a family background of nicotine addiction are at an increased risk of developing a nicotine addiction themselves. 

Some people smoke at an early age and they’ll continue doing it until adulthood. A study shows that 80% of smokers begin consuming tobacco before they are 18 years old. Puffing at an early age has a higher chance of dependence in the later stage of life. Addiction can’t be that intense for those who started smoking as an adult. Those who abuse drugs and alcohol are open to chances of being dependent on nicotine.

How do you know if you are addicted to nicotine? 

You should discuss your health history and current usage of tobacco for your doctor to diagnose. In this way, the degree of dependence will be determined. Full commitment should be given to completely quit.

Is there a cure for nicotine addiction? 

Physical nicotine addiction is quite challenging. To be able to get rid of it, behaviours and routines need to be changed. Of course, the following treatments will have a big part in your journey.

Medications

Some medications can decrease your cravings for tobacco. They’re replacements for cigarettes. You’ll instead have gums, lozenges, patches, inhalers, or nasal sprays. These things have nicotine but are void of harmful chemicals that tobacco contains. Taking these medications paves the way to a slow and gradual way of overcoming addiction. Antidepressant is another option as it boosts dopamine production which can improve your mood.

Support groups

Support groups for nicotine addiction can be either online or in-person. They teach skills for coping with addiction. They give you the chance to share and have fellowship with others who are in the same situation.

Natural remedies

Some natural remedies exist, but note that the safety and efficacy of these options need further studies:

  • Acupuncture
  • Essential oils
  • Herbs
  • Hypnosis

Doing it at home

The road to freeing yourself from nicotine addiction can be done at home. You have to make the necessary steps a habit and incorporate them into your daily life. As you take medications, you have to cope with withdrawal symptoms. Here’s a list of important changes:

  • Regular exercise
  • Get some healthy snacks for your hands and mouth to work on
  • Empty your home and car of all tobacco products
  • Avoid hanging out with other smokers to not tolerate relapse
  • Stick with healthy meals
  • Have realistic views on your treatment
  • You can start with small goals and once you’ve accomplished each of them, you can reward yourself

What does nicotine withdrawal feel like? 

Normally, people who stopped using tobacco will have withdrawal symptoms. Headaches and fatigue are the physical effects. On the mental side, they’re being anxious and irritable. It’s usually grueling when experiencing the symptoms in the first week. As the days pass by, it will be easier for you to cope. Even though the symptoms will gradually subside, there will be cravings from time to time. Discipline is vital in this matter for you to reach your target.

Do e-cigarettes contain nicotine? 

Yes. Because of this, e-cigarettes are addictive and create health hazards like:

  • Adverse effects on heart, lungs, kidney, and respiratory system
  • Harming gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems
  • Weakened immune system
  • Development of cancer in different organs

Can nicotine cause allergic reactions? 

It can. Coughing, headache, rash, sneezing, stuffy nose, watery eyes, and wheezing are all symptoms of a nicotine allergy. These can also be symptoms of being allergic to tobacco by-products. Nicotine allergy is usually discovered when using nicotine replacement therapy or NRT. These replacements don’t have harmful chemicals that you can find in tobacco. Thus, nicotine is isolated and becomes an allergen. 

Chest pain, difficulty breathing, hives, irregular heartbeat, seizure, and swelling of tongue, lips, face, and throat are all severe symptoms of a nicotine allergy. If you find yourself experiencing them, go to the emergency room as soon as possible. Apart from nicotine, adhesive on the transdermal nicotine patch can also cause allergic reactions. Burning, itching, redness, swelling, and tingling are some of the signs this can cause.

Can you overdose on nicotine? 

Yes, nicotine overdose can happen and it’s sometimes mistaken for an allergic reaction. Symptoms include abdominal pain, cold sweat, convulsion, nausea or vomiting, and rapid heartbeat.

Can I smoke while taking medicine? 

You may presume that you’re allergic to nicotine while you’re taking other drugs at the same time. But the truth is that you’re going through the adverse effects of nicotine with some kinds of drugs. To avoid this mishap, you can consult a pharmacist.

Here’s a list of drugs that react negatively with nicotine:

  • Acetaminophen or Tylenol
  • Benzodiazepines like Diazepam (Valium) and Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Imipramine or Tofranil
  • Labetalol or Trandate
  • Phenylephrine
  • Prazosin or Minipress
  • Propranolol

How do you treat cigarette allergy? 

The ultimate prevention of getting nicotine allergies is never consuming tobacco. This includes skipping places that give you the chance to smoke. If it’s impossible to go another way, it’s practical to use a surgical mask.

What is the most effective way to stop smoking? 

Quitting smoking is a big challenge for most smokers but it takes dedication and discipline to overcome the urge to smoke. Experts would say that the cure for addiction is not trying tobacco at all. Different NRTs can help you through your journey in getting rid of tobacco. They are patches, inhaler or nasal spray, gum, and lozenges. Some medications and changes of lifestyle can contribute a lot. You can also reach out to support groups.

It follows that if you have a tobacco allergy, you also have a nicotine allergy. Some people only find out nicotine allergy when using NRT on their way to quitting smoking. Doctors will always have their way to verify the symptoms of nicotine allergy. Once there’s confirmation that you’re allergic to nicotine, better stay away from tobacco and other sources of nicotine.