Ending a Nicotine Addiction Might Be Harder If You Have a Mental Illness

Ending a Nicotine Addiction Might Be Harder If You Have a Mental Illness | Transcend Recovery Community

If you’re in recovery for alcohol or drug addiction but you still smoke cigarettes, you’re not alone. It’s common for those who once struggled with an addiction to also have a nicotine addiction. However, interestingly, more and more research is pointing to a connection between mental illness and nicotine addiction.

One study found that nicotine receptors in the brain actually improved mood in certain types of depression. At the same time, this study also found that those who smoke are more likely to have symptoms of depression than those who do not. Depression is associated with an increased risk for smoking, and research has found that smoking is often a behavior that depressed adults engage in as a way to soothe their symptoms.

Someone with anxiety might also find some relief in nicotine and cigarette smoking. Research shows that when an individual smokes, nicotine raises levels of attention and triggers a flood of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that relaxes and temporarily relieves anxiety. Like other drugs that activate dopamine, the result of regular nicotine intake turns off the natural switch for dopamine, and the long term supply of this brain chemical decreases over time.

Despite the perceived ease of symptoms from mental illness, research indicates that nicotine actually increases anxiety over time. Also, the nicotine addiction will create cravings and withdrawal symptoms in someone who hasn’t smoked in certain period of time. Sadly, approximately 1,000 people die from nicotine-related illnesses every day, including lung cancer.

Perhaps learning the effects of smoking might encourage an increased effort to quit. Fortunately, there are various options to help you wean off nicotine. For instance, there are the products such as patches, gum, lozenges, and inhalers which can aide in the smoking cessation process. These products could be an effective tool to use when trying to quit smoking. However, it’s also important to know their side effects. These products might cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

In addition to these options, you might also try medication, prescribed by your doctor or psychiatrist. For example, you might take an antidepressant to help you quit. Because nicotine tends to help lift one’s mood, taking an antidepressant might actually replace the need for nicotine. For instance, Bupropion is a drug that is prescribed to help people resist the urge to smoke. It’s often used for 7-12 weeks helping someone wean off the habit of smoking. Side effects include insomnia, dry mouth, dizziness, headaches, and nausea.

Another drug to try is Varenicline. This drug was specifically designed to address nicotine dependence. It stimulates dopamine in the brain as well as limits or blocks nicotine receptors. Although this drug is successful for some people, it comes with some serious health warnings from the Food and Drug Administration.

If you have a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, it would be important to discuss options with your therapist or psychiatrist. It might be best to treat your mental illness first which could make it easier to quit smoking. Of course, you might not even be aware that you have a mental illness. In this case, if you’re having trouble quitting nicotine, contact a mental health professional who can assess whether a mental illness is a factor in nicotine addiction.

 

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The 10 Most Addictive Drugs to Quit (Part Two)

The 10 Most Addictive Drugs to Quit (Part Two) | Transcend Recovery Community

This article is the second in a two part series listing the top ten addictive drugs, counting backwards from 10 to the top most addictive drug. This list is based upon an article recently published by The Fix magazine.

The first article in this series listed the most addictive drugs, rated 10 through 5. The following completes the list with the top four addictive drugs.

  • Methadone (dependence rating = 2.68) – Methadone has been the standard form of sober living treatment for opioid addiction for over 30 years. It is legally only available from federally-regulated clinics for regular use in order to slowly wean an individual off the opiate addiction. When taken properly, medication-assisted treatment with methadone suppresses opioid withdrawal, blocks the effects of other problem opioids and reduces cravings. However, there is criticism against the use of methadone as a treatment drug because regular use of methadone essentially creates another addiction. Although someone might be taking the drug according to instruction, he or she can grow tolerant to the drug, which essentially indicates that an addiction has developed. Replacing one addiction for another, some argue, should not be a form of treatment.
  • Nicotine (dependence rating = 2.82) – Nicotine is found in the roots of certain plants known as the nightshade family of plants and is considered a stimulant. In small doses, nicotine is used in cigarettes and has a stimulating effect when smoked. However, in large doses nicotine can be harmful. Sadly, the nicotine content found in cigarettes has increased over time. One study found that American made cigarettes had an increase of nicotine of about 1.78 percent. Approximately 1000 people die from nicotine-related illnesses every day, including lung cancer. Another study found that those who smoke are more likely to have symptoms of depression than those who do not. Depression is associated with an increased risk for smoking, and research has found that smoking is often a behavior that depressed adults engage in as a way to self-medicate.
  • Crack Cocaine (dependence rating = 2.82) – Cocaine is derived from the leaves of the cocoa plant. It can be taken into the body in a variety of ways, including snorting, injecting, and smoking. However, when cocaine is converted into crack or free base cocaine and smoked or injected directly into the bloodstream, these methods deliver the drug faster to the brain and leads to a more intense high. Because of this, these methods also have more dangerous effects. Extended use of crack cocaine can lead to thickening of tissues in the heart, heart attacks, and heart failure. If used over a length of time, cocaine can lead to sores in the lungs, throat, and mouth, among other significant physical impairments. Of course, other dangers of cocaine use are criminal activity, such as stealing money to maintain an addiction. Over time, a cocaine addiction could even lead to long-term life of crime.
  • Heroin (dependence rating = 2.82) – Heroin is an opiod that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. Heroin can be injected or inhaled by snorting or sniffing or smoking it. Symptoms of using the drug include red or raw nostrils, needle marks or scars on arms, wearing long sleeves at inappropriate times, and medicinal breath. Physical evidence might include cough syrup, bottles, syringes, cotton swabs, and spoons for heating heroin. Long-term symptoms are loss of appetite, constipation, brain damage, and damage to the central nervous system. Heroin is a dangerous drug, not only for being incredibly addictive, but also the drug essentially rewires the brain suppressing all instincts and slowing down the nervous system. The drug can be hard to break, as many news reports, articles, and television programs are revealing. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of heroin users almost doubled. In 2007, for example, 337 thousand people were addicted to heroin in America and in 2012 that number jumped up to 669 thousand.

Of course, it should be noted that drugs, regardless of their addictive quality, can produce significant impairment in one’s life when an addiction develops. In fact, addictions can also develop to behaviors, such as gambling and shopping, which can also lead to great harm.  Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that the dependence rating included in this two part article series is one of many factors in the development of addiction.

 

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