Symptoms, Consequences and Treatment for Nicotine Addiction
Symptoms of Nicotine Addiction
Nicotine is an ingredient found in tobacco products. When a person smokes, sniffs, or chews tobacco, the nicotine absorbs into their bloodstream which then stimulates the adrenal glands, central nervous system, and increases dopamine levels in the brain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, research shows that other chemicals found in tobacco smoke may also increase the effects of nicotine on the brain.
Signs and symptoms of nicotine addiction may include:
- Developing a tolerance to nicotine
- Being unable to control nicotine usage habits
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when nicotine effects wear off
- Undergoing extreme changes in hygiene or appearance
- Continuing to abuse nicotine despite the problems it’s causing
Consequences of Nicotine Abuse
While nicotine is highly addictive, the chemicals found in tobacco are really what cause most of the negative health effects associated with long-term use. In fact, the Mayo Clinic reports that tobacco smoke contains more than 60 known cancer-causing chemicals in addition to thousands of other harmful substances.
Health problems caused by nicotine abuse may include:
- Lung and mouth cancer
- Chronic bronchitis
- Heart and circulatory system problems
- Increased risk of infertility and impotence
- Weakened sense of taste and smell
- Dental problems
- Premature aging and wrinkles
- Impaired immune system
Nicotine addiction can also lead to (or contribute to) psychological problems, such as:
A variety of social problems may also come as a result of nicotine addiction, including:
- Strained relationships
- Decreased productivity at work
- Financial insecurity
Treatment Options for Nicotine Addiction
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. Death caused by smoking and nicotine addiction can be prevented with effective treatment programs.
If you or a loved one are addicted to nicotine, a clinical counselor, doctor, or substance abuse specialist can help you enroll in an addiction program or determine the appropriate type of treatment for your situation. The type of treated best suited to you or your loved one’s needs will vary depending on certain circumstances, such as:
- Willingness to begin treatment
- Prior treatment and relapse history
- Motivation for seeking help
- Financial capabilities
Based on your circumstances, the best treatment option(s) may include one or more of the following types of nicotine addiction programs.
If you are addicted to nicotine, smoking cessation may be difficult due to the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. Medically assisted detox can provide a period of safe medical monitoring to help you reach a sober state both safely and comfortably. A comprehensive care team will create an individualized detox program based on your needs and severity of addiction, and then continually monitor you throughout your detox treatment. Individual and group counseling may also begin during this time, which may help you process your psychological responses to detox and prepare for ongoing treatment.
Residential treatment for nicotine addiction provides a safe, home-like environment in which clients can reside for at least 90 days of long-term addiction treatment. Throughout their program, clients will attend individual and group counseling sessions for 12-step facilitation therapy and other evidence-based behavioral therapies that will help them learn how to live a sober life. Individualized treatment programs are led by a multidisciplinary team to provide the most thorough and comprehensive nicotine addiction treatment available. This long-term approach offers the best opportunity for lasting sobriety.
Individuals suffering from nicotine addiction may also choose outpatient programming for treatment. These programs allow for more flexibility to meet other obligations such as work or school while still attending addiction treatment. Outpatient care requires that clients meet for individual and group sessions several times a week to work through the principles of the 12-step program, attend educational lectures, and participate in behavioral therapies. These sessions provide the necessary tools, life skills and knowledge to live a substance-free life. Outpatient sessions take place in a safe, convenient location.
A sober living program gives clients the ability to live in a substance-free, structured environment while still receiving recovery support from resident care advocates, program coordinators, and on-site staff members. This community atmosphere provides accountability with consistent individual and group counseling sessions, regular drug testing and resident rules and standards that must be followed. Sober living programs may take place in an apartment complex or house and provide essential support during very vulnerable times in early recovery.
After a client has transitioned into sober life at home, he or she will still need community support to maintain their sobriety. Aftercare programs are designed for people who have completed inpatient programs and are living on their own in recovery. This type of treatment requires clients to meet once a week for group sessions, in which they discuss current struggles and share encouragement and strategies with their peers for ongoing recovery.
A combination of these addiction treatment programs can provide a well-rounded, comprehensive approach to addiction recovery. The above continuum of care is designed to bridge the gap between residential or outpatient care and sober living by providing peer support, education, and long-term care.
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