All smokers know perfectly well that this addiction is extremely difficult to quit. According to numerous anonymous and public surveys, almost 75 percent of smokers would literally give an arm to stop it. But nicotine is a very insidious thing, which is even more dangerous than alcohol.
Why is it so addictive?
Specialists point out the following reasons:
Unlike alcohol, smoking doesn’t cause immediate negative results (ebriety). It doesn’t change person’s behavior, doesn’t make people do inadequate things or something like this. It seems absolutely harmless.
- Nicotine and other carcinogenic substances containing in tobacco smoke destroy body from inside, but their effect is not seen, especially at early stages. A smoker can look absolutely healthy and feel well for many years. Cough and labored breathing are usually considered just unpleasant side effects and ignored.
- Nicotine causes psychological addiction rather than physiological. Many smokers really enjoy the process itself. It helps them to concentrate or relax, or remove stress, and even relieve pain. They smoke almost subconsciously every time they need to think or relax or do something else (every smoker has his own ritual).
But sooner or later most smokers realize that it’s time to quit. Few people find enough motivation and strength to do it themselves, without professional help. Of course, situation varies greatly in different countries. If we take the US, statistics says that from year to year more and more people apply for medical help to stop smoking.
Modern tendencies in the treatment of nicotine addiction
Modern medicine offers two basic methods of nicotine withdrawal treatment. They are medication and non-medication methods. Non-medication methods include consultations, search for motivation, psychotherapy, special training and courses. These methods work for emotional, impressive people better. But in general, their effectiveness is moderate, and in severe cases, medication therapy is usually required.
Medication method of treatment supposes use of certain medicines that help to cope with the addiction. These medicines are subdivided into several categories.
- Nicotine replacement therapy medications. They are produced in various forms (gums, patches, inhalation devices etc.) and contain nicotine in small doses. They help to overcome abstinence symptoms (that are also called withdrawal syndrome). These drugs can be combined for a better effect.
- Antidepressants. In particular, in modern medicine usually two groups of antidepressants are applied – those based on bupropion and on nortriptyline. They can be combined with the drugs from the first category (NRT). It is considered that these antidepressant drugs reduce desire for smoking thanks to certain chemical reactions in the brain. You can read more articles about antidepressants here, link: https://awcanadianpharmacy.com/blog/category/anti-depressant/
- Agonists of nicotinic receptors. These are drugs containing varenicline – the chemical that blocks certain receptors in the brain, as a result of which a person doesn’t enjoy smoking anymore. The course of treatment can take up to half a year. The method is effective, but it has certain side effects.
- Natural (herbal) medications. They are even not medications in the full sense of this word, but supplements that help to overcome the addiction. Usually such remedies contain extracts of several plants and herbs that relieve the abstinence symptoms and excite disgust for tobacco smell. They are usually used as a supplementary method of treatment.
Comparison of some popular drugs for nicotine withdrawal treatment
|Name of the drug||Chantix||Zyban||Smok-OX||Nicorette Gum or Nicorette Patch|
|Category||Agonist of nicotinic receptors||Atypical antidepressant||Natural Herbal Supplement||Nicotine replacement drugs|
|The main active ingredient||Varenicline||Bupropion||10 herbs (Aloe, curcuma, camellia and others)||Nicotine|
|Mechanism of action||Decreases the desire of smoking through blocking corresponding zones in the brain. Reduces pleasure from smoking and relieves abstinence symptoms.||Inhibits agents responsible for pleasure from smoking. Reduces urges to smoking.||Detoxifies and purifies organism, helps to overcome withdrawal symptoms and recover health, has a calming effect.||Help to overcome abstinence syndrome through supply of small doses of nicotine to blood.|
|Specific features and recommendations||One of the most progressive drugs that can be prescribed to patients with physiological and psychological addiction.||Recommended to patients with mental addictions, who are not heavy smokers||Recommended to everyone as a supplementary tool for quitting smoking||Prescribed to patients with a prominent physiologic addiction. Can be combined with other types of drugs|
|Side effects||Neuropsychiatric disorders including depressions, suicidal thoughts, as well as higher risk of cardiovascular disorders||Depression, suicidal behavior, sudden change of mood, aggression.||No serious side effects were registered.||Dizziness, headache, stomachache, sore throat and muscle pain (for a gum)|
The assortment of medicines used for Smoking Cessation is rather extensive today. But keep in mind that the most important is your own desire to quit. If you have firmly decided to stop smoking, consult a specialist for designating the most appropriate drugs for the support of your intention.