Dr. Aaron's Blog

Causes And Effects Of Tobacco Addiction

March 13, 2017 Addiction, Addiction Recovery, All, Depression, Mental Health, Naturopathic Medicine by Aaron Van Gaver

Tobacco is generally known to be highly addictive.  It is one of the world’s most widely abused substances.  Today, this product is believed to be the leading cause of preventable death in the world with a death rate estimated at 6 million yearly – Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.   The principal addictive chemical in tobacco is known as “Nicotine.”  When inhaled via cigarette smoke or absorbed into the bloodstream, nicotine stimulates the release of adrenaline from the brain within 10 seconds of entering the body thereby generating a buzz of energy and pleasure.   Nicotine is responsible for creating the brain’s “happy” chemical by triggering an increase in dopamine.  Just like any other drug, the frequent use of tobacco can bring about psychological and physical addiction.  It is important to understand that even smokeless forms of tobacco like chewing tobacco and inhaling powdered tobacco such as snuff can cause temporal excitement and even lead to addiction.

Symptoms of Tobacco Addiction

Due to the fact that tobacco can be consumed openly and can be easily obtained, it is more difficult to hide a tobacco addiction than any other addiction. Since it is legal to smoke tobacco, addiction has become very rampant.

Tobacco ‘addicts’ can

  • Continue to smoke despite existing health problems.
  • Refuse to attend events or even give up activities where the use of tobacco or smoking is generally prohibited.
  • Resolve to smoking or taking other tobacco products during times of stress.
  • Desire to have some tobacco products to feel “normal.”
  • Chew or smoke tobacco after spending extended periods of time without using, such as after a journey, work meeting or movie.
  • Experience withdrawal symptoms – such as rapid heart rate, irritability, sweating or shaky hands – whenever they try to quit.
  • Find it very difficult to quit chewing or smoking tobacco, despite making several attempts to stop the practice.


Outlook for Tobacco Addiction

Like other addiction to other drugs, tobacco addiction is never really cured but can be managed with proper treatment.  This implies that tobacco ‘addicts’ will have to deal with the addiction for the rest of their lives.  Research shows that about 75% of tobacco ‘addicts’ who decide to quit smoking relapse within the first 6 months.  No doubt, there seems to be a higher relapse rate among tobacco users than other drugs.  In order to prevent the occurrence of a future relapse, there is need for an extended treatment stage or period.  As a way of altering lifestyle habits, it is good to avoid situations where other tobacco users will be present when cravings start.  Research has also revealed that chances for recovery can be improved through the implementation of a positive behaviour like exercise.