Is Nicotine An Addictive Drug?

Yes, nicotine is a highly addictive chemical found in the tobacco plant, making users crave the chemical and desire the effects that nicotine causes. Many users start to become dependent on actions involved with tobacco use and form habits of using tobacco in certain situations such as before/after meals or when feeling stressed. Nicotine is usually inhaled from the smoke of tobacco cigarettes, pipes, cigars or e-cigarettes.

What Are The Effects Of Nicotine?

Consuming nicotine creates pleasurable feelings in the user’s body and mind because the brain releases neurotransmitters (such as dopamine, the brain chemical that influences good mood and feelings of reward and motivation). After nicotine consumption, these neurotransmitters create a brief feeling of pleasure. People who abuse alcohol or drugs or who have been diagnosed with mental illness have an increased risk of nicotine dependence.

Who Is At Risk + What Are The Risks?

Anyone who uses tobacco is at risk of developing a nicotine addiction and the best way to prevent an addiction is to avoid tobacco altogether. People who smoke at a young age are more likely to smoke into their adulthood and increases dependence later on in life. It is far less common for adults to start smoking or develop an addiction. Tobacco products contain many other harmful chemicals besides nicotine- the nearly 4,000 other chemicals found in tobacco have many negative physical, mental and psychological effects and create many health complications such as:

  • lung cancer and other cancers (especially in the respiratory system)
  • emphysema
  • chronic bronchitis
  • leukemia
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • diabetes
  • eye issues (cataracts, macular degeneration, etc.)
  • infertility
  • impotence
  • miscarriage and other pregnancy complications
  • weakened immune system
  • respiratory infections
  • gum disease and many other dental issues
  • the appearance of premature aging
  • peptic ulcer disease
  • osteoporosis
  • loss of sense of taste or smell

How Is Addiction Treated?

There are many treatment options available for nicotine addiction including prescription medicine, nicotine replacement therapy, and support groups that may help change behaviors and routines for nicotine users. Medications can help users quit smoking by lessening cravings via patches, gums, lozenges, nasal sprays or even inhalers. For some helpful nicotine support options, feel free to check here. These options listed provide the nicotine without the other harmful chemicals found in tobacco and allow users to defeat the addiction in a slow and methodical way. Treatment for nicotine addiction mainly focuses on medications and taking the time to work through withdrawal symptoms and learning skills to transition away from nicotine. Here are some suggestions to try to make shifting away from nicotine easier:

  • form a healthy exercise routine
  • choose healthy snacks that keep your hands and mouth busy
  • remove all tobacco products from your home, car, bags, workplace, etc.
  • avoid situations that may trigger tobacco usage, including being around friends or family who smoke
  • set realistic expectations about your treatment, take it day by day by meeting small goals
  • reward yourself for meeting your goals!

Nicotine Resources & More Information

More Resources

Resources From Dr. Brooke Stuart / Let Go & Grow®

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