Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine addiction is a condition when a person is addicted to nicotine. Nicotine is commonly found in tobacco plant products, such as cigarettes. People with nicotine addiction are usually difficult to quit smoking because of the effects of dependence on nicotine and the presence of nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine can cause temporary pleasure effects in the brain. The effects of nicotine can make a person feel comfortable, but they are at risk of becoming addicted. Nicotine addicts will usually feel anxious and irritable when they don't get nicotine intake, for example when they stop smoking. 

Cigarettes are one of the most commonly consumed sources of nicotine. However, not only nicotine, cigarettes also contain toxic substances that can cause smokers to be more at risk of heart attacks , strokes and cancer.

Causes of Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine addiction is generally caused by smoking or using other tobacco products, such as chewing gum containing tobacco, cigars, or e- cigarettes . People who don't smoke too often can also experience nicotine addiction because of the very addictive nature of nicotine. 

Every time someone smokes, nicotine will be absorbed by the blood and then flow to the brain. Generally, smokers absorb 1–1.5 mg of nicotine from one cigarette. Once in the brain, nicotine will increase the release of dopamine, a chemical that helps improve mood and creates a feeling of satisfaction.

Risk factors for nicotine addiction

Anyone who smokes or uses products containing nicotine is at risk for addiction. However, the following factors can increase a person's risk of experiencing nicotine addiction:

  • When you were young or a teenager when you started smoking
  • Suffer from a mental disorder, such as depression, schizophrenia, or PTSD
  • Growing up or living in a smoker's environment
  • Experiencing alcohol addiction
  • Experiencing dependence on NAPZA
  • Have a family history of nicotine addiction

Symptoms of Nicotine Addiction

The following symptoms can be a sign that someone is addicted to nicotine:

  • Unable to quit smoking even after trying to quit several times
  • Continue to smoke when suffering from lung or heart problems even though you know that smoking can make these conditions worse
  • Avoid visiting non-smoking places and avoid gathering with people who prevent him from smoking

When nicotine levels in the body are reduced, for example due to not being able to smoke while in a non-smoking room, sufferers of nicotine addiction can also experience several symptoms, such as:

  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation ( constipation )
  • Psychological problems, such as anxiety, restlessness, frustration, depression , and irritability

When to see a doctor

Many smokers often fail when trying to break away from their addiction to nicotine. Therefore, consult your doctor if you are addicted to nicotine and would like help in making the right plan to deal with it.

By undergoing a program to overcome nicotine addiction, the patient's chances of recovering from nicotine addiction will also increase.

Diagnosis of Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine addiction is also known as a tobacco use disorder. To diagnose nicotine addiction, the doctor will ask the patient about his habits in using products containing nicotine, as well as about the patient's medical history.

After that, the doctor will conduct a thorough physical examination, which includes checking body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, as well as breath sounds and heart sounds.

A person is declared to be suffering from nicotine addiction if in the last 12 months he has experienced or has at least 2 of the 11 criteria below:

  • Smoking large amounts or long periods of time
  • Tried to quit smoking but failed
  • It takes a long time to do something because it is done while smoking
  • Have an urgent desire to smoke immediately
  • Smoking repeatedly causes failure to complete work or education
  • Continuing to smoke even though they are often involved in problems with their social environment, for example arguing with other people because of smoking problems
  • Reducing social interaction if the activity prevents him from smoking
  • Continue to smoke even in an environment where there is a possibility of danger, for example in bed
  • Do not stop smoking even though you already know the dangers and feel the bad effects of smoking
  • Continue to smoke more cigarettes to achieve satisfaction
  • Experiencing withdrawal syndrome or nicotine withdrawal symptoms , which are symptoms that arise when a heavy smoker starts to quit smoking, so he smokes again to avoid these symptoms

Nicotine Addiction Treatment

Treatment for people with nicotine addiction can be done with or without drugs. Strong desire, motivation and commitment, as well as being consistent in taking medication, are important factors for overcoming nicotine addiction.

Addiction to nicotine in the form of cigarettes can be overcome by stopping smoking. This can be done in three ways, namely:   

  • Stop instantly
    Patients stop smoking right away without reducing smoking gradually. For heavy smokers, this method requires medical assistance to overcome the effects of addiction.
  • Delay
    Sufferers delay smoking the first cigarette 2 hours each day. For example, if the sufferer is used to smoking his first cigarette at 7 am, he may start smoking the next day at 9 am, then start smoking the day after tomorrow at 11 pm. In this way, smoking cessation can be planned within 7 days.
  • Reduce
    Sufferers gradually reduce the number of cigarettes smoked each day. If the patient is used to smoking 24 cigarettes a day, reduce 2-4 cigarettes every day.

About 90% of people with nicotine addiction try to quit their addiction without the help of drugs or therapy. However, this method is considered less effective, because only 5–7% of sufferers can actually stop. 

Therefore, the following methods may be needed to increase success in quitting smoking and overcoming nicotine addiction:

1. Counseling

In counseling, the doctor will assess the patient's history of addiction, the level of addiction, and the patient's health condition. Based on this assessment, the doctor will provide appropriate advice and assistance to the patient so that he is even more motivated to quit smoking.

If necessary, the doctor will also refer the patient for group counseling with other sufferers or for behavioral therapy.

Counseling aims to arouse the patient's motivation so that he wants to change his habits. The doctor will help the patient make a plan to quit smoking, as well as give advice on how to avoid situations that make the patient want to smoke.

Not only that, patients will also be assisted in overcoming mental problems that arise due to quitting smoking. 

2. Behavioral therapy

The doctor will help the patient look for factors that cause the patient to smoke, and devise a plan to avoid these factors and deal with withdrawal symptoms.

There are five phases of behavior change from a smoker, namely:

  • Precontemplation
    phase In this phase, the patient has no intention to quit, so he must be directed to quit smoking. Patients will be explained the disadvantages of smoking and the advantages of quitting smoking so that they have the intention to quit.
  • Contemplation
    phase In the contemplation phase, the doctor will encourage the patient to believe that quitting smoking is possible and the doctor will help the patient to start quitting smoking.
  • Preparatory
    phase In the preparatory phase, the patient is ready to quit smoking. Doctors will help patients identify obstacles to doing so and provide solutions.
  • Action phase
    At this stage, the patient has stopped smoking for up to 6 months. The doctor will help the patient to stay consistent and prevent the desire to smoke from coming back.
  • Maintenance phase The
    patient has quit smoking for more than 6 months and is used to not smoking in his daily life. The doctor will help the patient stop smoking and is ready to help if the patient needs support.

3. Nicotine replacement therapy (nicotine replacement therapy)

In this therapy, doctors can give plasters, chewing gum, sprays or inhalers that contain low levels of nicotine, so that the patient's body is slowly released from nicotine addiction.

4. Drugs

The drugs commonly used to stop nicotine addiction are bupropion and varenicline. Both drugs mimic the effects of nicotine on the body and prevent withdrawal symptoms from occurring.

Apart from undergoing the therapy above, patients are also advised to make the following efforts to help the healing process:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Choose healthy foods to consume
  • Throw away all cigarettes owned
  • Set a target to stop and a prize if you manage to reach that target
  • Avoiding situations that could make the patient smoke again, for example being around smokers

For the use of several other therapies, such as hypnosis, acupuncture , and consumption of herbal medicines, consult your doctor first before undergoing them.

Complications of Nicotine Addiction

Cigarettes can damage almost all organs and the immune system. This is because cigarettes contain more than 60 cancer-causing chemicals and thousands of other harmful elements.

The following are some of the complications that can occur in people with cigarette addiction:

  • Respiratory tract disease
    Smokers are more susceptible to respiratory tract infections, such as colds, flu, and bronchitis.
  • Decreased immune system
    Cigarettes can weaken the immune system so that smokers are more susceptible to disease, including diseases that attack the immune system.
  • Diabetes
    Smoking can increase a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes and accelerate the occurrence of diabetes complications, such as kidney failure.
  • Eye disorders
    Cataracts or loss of vision due to macular degeneration are more at risk for smokers.
  • Diseases of the heart and blood vessels
    Smoking increases a person's risk of having a heart attack, heart failure and stroke .
  • Lung cancer and other lung diseases
    Nine out of ten cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking. Smoking also causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and exacerbates asthma.
  • Various types of cancer
    Smoking is the main cause of oral and esophageal cancer, laryngeal cancer, pharyngeal cancer, bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, cervical cancer, and blood cancer. Overall, smoking is responsible for 30% of all cancer deaths.
  • Infertility and impotence
    Smoking increases the risk of infertility in women and men, as well as erectile dysfunction in men.
  • Complications of pregnancy and childbirth
    Pregnant women who smoke are at high risk of having a miscarriage , giving birth prematurely, having babies with low birth weight or being born with defects. Smoking also increases the risk of sudden death in infants.
  • Deteriorating physical appearance
    Chemical toxins in cigarettes can make skin look aged and teeth yellow.
  • Risk to loved ones
    People who don't smoke but live close to smokers are more at risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease than people who are not close to smokers.

Nicotine Addiction Prevention

The best way to prevent nicotine addiction is to avoid nicotine use in the first place. Never try nicotine in any form or quantity.

Prevention should be done since adolescence, because this age group is most susceptible to being influenced to use nicotine, especially in the form of cigarettes.

Some of the ways below can also be done together to prevent the use of nicotine which can cause addiction:

  • Restrict access to cigarettes for minors
  • Restrict smoking access in public spaces
  • Limit advertising of tobacco products
  • Increase the price of cigarettes by increasing the tax
  • Increase awareness of the dangers of smoking to health
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