Nicotine Addiction Treatment

An A-Z GUIDE for recovery from nicotine addiction. Learn more on what to expect during treatment and how to help a loved one.

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Nicotine: The hardest drug to quit

Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical found in the Nicotiana tabacum plant. Besides being a main ingredient in tobacco products, nicotine can also be found in several other products, such as:

  • liquids for use in electronic cigarettes
  • pesticides
  • smoking-cessation products (nicotine gum, nicotine patches, nicotine lozenges, and nicotine nasal spray)

It’s not sensationalist: nicotine has been found to be harder to quit than heroin. Regular use leads to changes in brain chemistry that keep us smoking way beyond the times when it’s pleasurable.

So, if you’re ready to quit smoking for good…what can you do? In this article, we’ll review the condition of addiction and its treatment. We’ll talk about the medical treatments that are currently on the market, and what you can do to get better. Finally, we invite your personal questions about kicking nicotine at the end. In fact, we try to respond to all legitimate questions personally and promptly.


Has nicotine taken control of your life?
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Understanding Nicotine Addiction

What is addiction and what causes it?

It can be difficult to fight the enemy without the right weapons. In order to overcome your nicotine addiction, you should understand it first.

We think that the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)’s definition works best. They see addiction as:

“…a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.”

In other words, addiction is not a moral failing. Instead, it is related to brain function. In fact, drug addiction can change brain function over time. Once an addiction takes over, it influences all the areas of your life. Furthermore, addiction is manifested as a pathological reward-hunt that completely changes people’s personalities and rational reasoning.

Nicotine addiction is characterized by:

  1. Impaired decision making abilities, affecting a person’s perception and judgment.
  2. Persistent risk of relapse.
  3. The unlikelihood of total abstinence without some form of intervention and medical treatment.

Are You Addicted To Nicotine?

If you use nicotine because it:

1. Gives you a euphoric rush
2. Helps with motivation
3. Provides you with feelings of pleasure

…addiction is possible.

Physically, nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands, which results in a discharge of epinephrine (adrenaline). Over time, exposure to nicotine results in the development of tolerance. Tolerance is a condition during which you need more of the drug to achieve initial effect. As you need to consume more nicotine to produce the same effects, you get deeper into the habit.

How can you know for sure that you’re hooked? Possible signs and symptoms of nicotine addiction include:

  • Continued use of nicotine despite negative effects to your personal life
  • Experiencing serious withdrawal symptoms after not having nicotine
  • Giving up recreational or social activities to consume nicotine
  • Smoking despite health problems or when you’re sick
  • Smoking several cigarettes a day
  • Trying but failing to stop smoking on your own

For a more complete assessment, CALL 1-877-265-7020 to talk with us about signs of nicotine drug problems. We understand addiction. We’re here to help.

Why Did I Get Addicted To Nicotine and Others Didn’t?

Nicotine addiction is not a single cause disease; it can’t be traced to a specific set of genes or conditions. So how do we know what leads to addiction?

Medically, the circumstances that increase the likelihood of this disease are termed “risk factors”.  When many risk factors are present, your chances of getting addicted to a psychoactive drug are higher than when less factors are present. The following elements can increase the risk of nicotine addiction:

1. Genetics

In families where nicotine addiction is common, family members often carry the risk for this particular addiction. Something in the body’s chemical responses appears to be shared, or inherited by several family members, causing them to become more drawn to nicotine than others might be. Obsessive or compulsive habits can also be passed down from one generation to another. For example, if the mother smoked during pregnancy, the child later in life might develop a compulsion to nicotine or other type of addiction.

2. Peer Pressure

Young people are particularly susceptible to this form of risk when it comes to nicotine dependence and addiction. Smoking helps young adolescents aspiring to popularity. Going along with the crowd means that a person is liked and accepted because of doing/consuming the same things/substances as the others.

3. Stress

Stress and turbulent life events affect all generations. Substance abuse sometimes serves as a way to relax and relieve tension. At first it seems harmless, but it never is.

4. Body’s response to drug of choice

A person’s individual metabolism of a drug will determine how well he/she will be able to tolerate the abused substance. In other words, some bodies react favorably to substances like nicotine and produce spikes in the pleasure centers of the brain. Other bodies can take-it-or-leave-it. However, once the body reaches its limits and consequences of nicotine use stack up…watch out.

5. Dysfunctional family

Feelings of loneliness often result from a family inability to communicate or interact on a meaningful level. When parents and children, or two partners are unable to reach one another to form a connection, then the risk of addiction is high. During moments of emotional dissatisfaction people are likely to reach for anything that can fill their void whether they want to calm down, or get high.

6. Related health conditions

Those who suffer from depression, hypersensitivity and other mental conditions are at much higher risk of becoming addicted to alcohol, nicotine, or drugs. Using these substances as a form of self-medication can negatively impact your physical and mental health being. The need simply to feel better will make you reach for whatever gives your comfort.

Whatever odds or difficulties you are facing with nicotine, know that addiction is a medical conditon which can be managed with treatment. Call us at 1-877-265-7020 to find one.

Getting the Best Treatment

Nothing can be done until YOU are ready to admit that a problem exists. But simply accepting your nicotine addiction won’t make it go away. After you know that there is a problem, the immediate objective is to find treatment. Nicotine addiction treatment is usually provided by a primary care physician, at rehab centers, or at specialized nicotine detox clinics. Treatment options for nicotine addiction include:

OPTION 1: Inpatient treatment

These programs allow you to live at the facility and undergo an intense 24/7 treatment care. Inpatient programs for nicotine addiction often provide more adequate help for those with more severe addictions and those who have coexisting mental health conditions. Inpatient programs can be either:

Standard rehab programs for nicotine addiction

Standard inpatient rehabs provide you with round-the-clock care and 24/7 access to healthcare professionals and medical resources. These inpatient facilities provide a packet of services which is the most cost-effective treatment option.

Luxury and executive rehab programs for nicotine addiction

Luxury and executive rehabs are designed to allow working professionals to continue their regular work responsibilities while receiving treatment for their nicotine addiction. uxury and executive treatment centers are more expensive than standard because they provide additional amenities such as:

  • Access to internet and technology
  • Private rooms
  • Special nutrition
  • Wellness programs

OPTION 2: Outpatient treatment

Those with less severe nicotine addiction and without coexisting medical or mental health conditions tend to be the best candidates for outpatient programs. These programs offer treatment plans allowing you to live at home and make visits to a clinic or health center to work on your nicotine abuse issues.

Main treatments for nicotine

1. Medicines for nicotine addiction

There are multiple medications that a doctor can prescribe to help you quit nicotine and help prevent you from starting smoking again. Unlike nicotine replacement therapy, these medications do not contain nicotine. Prescription meds include:

  • Bupropion, which helps decrease your craving for nicotine and helps you cope with depression
  • Varenicline, which helps with the physical withdrawal symptoms.

2. Counseling for nicotine addiction

Psychotherapy – talk therapy – address the reasons WHY you smoke or use nicotine and offers you alternatives. Counseling helps you deal with cravings and learn to cope with life challenges… without using drugs, alcohol, and/or nicotine. However, the effectiveness of this treatment depends on your willingness to see them through. Counseling combined with nicotine replacement therapy is recommended by doctors as they treat both the psychological and physical addictive properties of nicotine.

3. Nicotine replacement therapy

Heavy smokers who smoke half a pack of cigarettes or more every day should look into replacement therapy options. When used correctly, nicotine replacement can be very effective. These are products that give you low doses of nicotine. A little nicotine in the system minimizes cravings for nicotine and helps ease symptoms when you stop completely.  Nicotine replacement therapy products come in forms such as:

  • chewing gum
  • inhalers
  • nasal spray
  • skin patches

4. Other treatments for nicotine

There are many other additional treatment modalities used in treatment for nicotine addiction such as:

  • Contingency Management (CM) – CM works under the belief that substance use is influenced by social, environmental, and biological factors.
  • Life Skills Development – Life skills are essential for improving the quality of life. These skills include training and education about maintaining physical health, creating a stable living environment, and stress and anger coping tools.
  • Education on the way nicotine affects your health – Learning about the harmful effects of nicotine on your health can greatly contribute to raising the level of awareness.

The First Step of Recovery from Nicotine

Treating nicotine addiction means resolving a number of physical and psychological issues that arose as a result of nicotine (ab)use. This is why the first step of treating addiction is medical withdrawal under the supervision of medical experts. When you have this extra help, you can access medications and emotional support to help make the process safe and effective.

Buy why does nicotine affect the brain so much?

When taken, nicotine binds to receptors in the brain and causes an increase in dopamine. Dopamine is the major chemical that stimulates reward centers in the brain. After repeated use, the body develops tolerance to nicotine (reduction in nicotine effects). When nicotine doses are decreased, the brain continues to seek the substance (nicotine) to be able to function normally and this causes withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms occur in the first few weeks after discontinuation or reduction in doses. Symptoms usually intensify during the first few days and last for 2-4 weeks.If you attempt to quit nicotine expect to undergo the following symptoms:

  • anger
  • anxiety
  • cravings
  • depression
  • difficulty concentrating
  • impatience
  • increased appetite and weight gain
  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • trouble sleeping

…but you don’t need to go through withdrawal alone.

Don’t let withdrawal avoidance prolong your addiction. Seeking nicotine detox is a necessary, and important step in the recovery process. Medical detox is recommended for people who have been using nicotine chronically, for a long period of time, and for those who have developed addiction to nicotine. It can make the process more humane and successful.

Like other chronic diseases, nicotine addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in cancer and other health damages. Get nicotine withdrawal help today at 1-877-265-7020.

Treating Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine addiction recovery starts with withdrawal but it doesn’t end there. Detox is only the first step of addiction recovery. Because addiction is a brain disease it requires the supervision of medical professionals in a clinical setting.

After nicotine withdrawal you’ll proceed to work on the psychological issues of your addiction. This includes:

  • Therapy sessions
  • Support groups
  • Education on the disease model
  • Counseling

If you need help beating your addiction to nicotine, we can help you find the treatment program that’s right for you. Our hotlines are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Simply call 1-877-265-7020 for help. Get to the bottom of your nicotine addiction TODAY.

How to Help Someone With Nicotine Addiction

Overcoming nicotine addiction can be incredibly challenging, even if you’re not the one facing it. When you want to help a family member or friend quit smoking, there are ways to be helpful AND ways that are counterproductive. We offer 6 strategies to help your nicotine addicted loved one here.

1. Express your support and be present as much as you can. Offer a compassionate and understanding ear whenever your loved one experiences crises and wants to talk about their smoking or withdrawal symptoms. When cravings strike, it is very helpful to have someone to talk to.

2. Go for walks together. Whenever your loved one feels tempted to smoke, suggest a walk around the block.

3. Create a nicotine-free environment. Remove all the cigarettes and other nicotine products from your home. Because the environment influences a person’s behavior, cleaning the house from all the toxic substances which might provoke nicotine use can help your loved one stay away from nicotine products.

4. Don’t drink coffee or alcohol when you’re together. Drinking coffee and alcoholic beverages can often trigger the urge for nicotine. It’s harder on the person trying to quit if everyone around him is drinking and/or smoking.

5. Let your loved one know you really care. Say how important their health is for you. Make sure they feel loved, protected and supported in their decision to quit. Be honest and mean whatever word you say.

6. Avoid criticism. Addicts have issues with self-esteem and need motivation, encouragement and support in order to leave their compulsive habits. Criticism will only make them more vulnerable to nicotine abuse.

If you feel the burden of a loved ones nicotine addiction, don’t feel guilty. Watching your loved one suffer can be emotionally disruptive. You can reach our addiction recovery specialists at 1-877-265-7020 to find more information on how to help a nicotine addict and find support resources in your area.

Long-Term Aftercare and Relapse Prevention

Treatment does not end once you leave rehab.

Aftercare begins once you’ve completed a recovery program and are ready to make the transition back to your community. The services you receive after leaving your facility help you implement the coping skills learned in recovery, so you can continue to build the healthy, fulfilling life you want after you graduate from a recovery program. Aftercare lasts for as long as you’re committed to a healthy, meaningful life. Those who remain nicotine-free after rehab succeed due to participation in aftercare services such as:

  • 12-Step meetings
  • Alumni organizations
  • Self-help groups
  • Volunteer activities that support health

These activities tremendously help you stay connected to other people who share same goals and values as you. These individuals can motivate and inspire you as you create the future you want.

Call us at 1-877-265-7020 to get the confidential guidance you need. Our treatment admissions specialists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide information that will help you choose the best course of aftercare treatment for your individual needs.

Does Treatment Work?

Yes! Treatment for nicotine addiction works.

In addition to stopping nicotine abuse, the goal of treatment is to help you continue to live a productive life. According to recent findings, most individuals who enter and remain in treatment successfully quit nicotine, and improve their professional, social, and psychological functioning. Successful treatment for nicotine addiction requires on going evaluation and modification, similarly to the approach taken for other chronic diseases. It’s a lifelong process of growth and health!

For more information about treatment options, please call our confidential hotline at 1-877-265-7020.

Reference Sources: NIDA: Are There Effective Treatments for Tobacco Addiction?
NIDA: Tobacco/Nicotine
CDC: Quitting Smoking
NIH: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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