Understanding nicotine and tobacco use disorder
Nicotine is the highly addictive substance in cigarettes that gives smokers a rush of pleasure and reinforces the behavior of smoking. When nicotine reaches the brain, it increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, generating a reward response. Prolonged exposure to nicotine alters brain chemistry and creates both physical and psychological dependence.
Over time, smokers require higher amounts of nicotine to experience the same effects, and if individuals try to stop smoking, they can experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. This dependence on nicotine drives the problematic patterns of tobacco use that are seen in individuals with tobacco use disorder.
In a smoking cessation program, you will learn about the effects of nicotine on your body and how to manage cravings for cigarettes. You will also get tips for reducing stress levels and coping with withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can be uncomfortable and may include symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, depressed mood, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating. While these symptoms are unpleasant, they can be effectively managed with medication.
Signs of tobacco use disorder
If you have tried to quit smoking but were not able to do so, it may be a sign that you have tobacco use disorder.
Other signs to watch for include:
Having strong cravings for cigarettes
Smoking a greater quantity, or over a longer period of time, than you intended
Spending a lot of time on activities related to obtaining or using tobacco
Ignoring self-care, social activities, work, or chores because of smoking
Continuing to smoke even though it causes major social or interpersonal issues
Smoking in hazardous situations
Needing to smoke a greater quantity of tobacco to achieve the same effect
Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop smoking
Is smoking related to other mental health conditions?
Smoking is more common in individuals suffering from underlying mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Smoking may relieve anxiety for a short period of time, but in the long run, can make mental health symptoms worse.
Geode Health offers comprehensive treatment for mental health disorders and co-occurring substance use disorders to help you manage both conditions at once.
When to quit smoking
It is never too soon or too late to quit smoking. The sooner you stop smoking, the better your chances of avoiding long-term health consequences such as lung disease, heart disease, and cancer. Additionally, quitting can improve your mood and increase energy levels. Many people attempt to quit multiple times before succeeding.
If you or a loved one has tried and failed to quit smoking, or is waiting for the right time to make the decision, talk to a Geode Health provider. Our skilled clinicians will work together with you to develop a treatment plan, giving you the tools to successfully quit smoking.
Treatments to quit smoking
Individual psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can be used in smoking cessation programs to address underlying psychological factors and develop effective coping strategies. Through counseling and behavioral interventions, individuals can gain the support and tools to overcome nicotine addiction and maintain long-term smoke-free lifestyles.
Group therapy and support sessions offer a supportive and non-judgmental environment where individuals can share experiences, receive encouragement, and learn from one another’s successes and challenges. By fostering a sense of community and offering peer support, group therapy can enhance motivation, accountability, and the likelihood of successfully quitting smoking.
Medications like varenicline (ChantixⓇ) and bupropion (ZybanⓇ) can aid in quitting smoking by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Some psychiatric medications may also be prescribed to improve mental well-being during the quitting process.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine replacement therapies, including gums, patches, inhalers, and lozenges, offer alternatives to smoking by delivering controlled amounts of nicotine to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These therapies can be effective tools in quitting smoking and are available in various forms to suit individual preferences and needs.
How does a smoking cessation program work?
A smoking cessation program typically begins with an assessment of your nicotine use, medical history, and lifestyle habits. This includes discussing any factors that may make quitting more challenging, such as stress or access to cigarettes. Your mental healthcare provider will then design a plan that addresses your unique needs and goals.
Your treatment plan may include:
Setting a quit date or gradually reducing the number of cigarettes smoked each day
Starting medication to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms
Using nicotine replacement products like patches, gum, or lozenges
Talking with a therapist about triggers for smoking and strategies for preventing relapse
Learning healthy coping strategies to manage cravings and stress
Participating in support groups or individual therapy sessions
At Geode Health, our providers are here to provide evidence-based treatments that will help you quit smoking and remain smoke-free. We offer both in-person and telehealth options so you can get personalized care wherever you are.
Find treatment to quit smoking today
If you are ready to quit smoking, Geode Health is here to help. Our providers offer compassionate and comprehensive care for those struggling with tobacco use disorder and related mental health concerns. Book an appointment today to get started on your journey toward a healthier, smoke-free life. We look forward to helping you reach your goals.
If you are in crisis and in need of immediate support
Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or text the Crisis Text Line by texting HELLO to 741741