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Nicotine, the manipulative chemical 

Recovery Program Solutions of Virginia > Blog > Health > Nicotine, the manipulative chemical 
  • Steph O. Website Administration
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For decades, people have smoked cigars and cigarettes to relieve stress believing that nicotine can help them focus and combat anxiety. When you smoke, the muscles become relaxed at the expense of your appetite. Psychologically, anger and apprehension are lessened. This is what most people think anyway. Unfortunately, that is a pervasive yet flawed misconception. The stress relief effect only occurs with the first smoke but induces nicotine withdrawals and cravings in the long term, as nicotine numbs the withdrawal sensations. As a result, smokers become more dependent on nicotine and lose their willpower, eroding both their physical and mental health in the process.  

After that first cigarette, as you continue to smoke, you become more troubled and tense. In fact, it is possible that people who have depression smoke more than people who do not have the condition. That is because nicotine tells the brain to release dopamine, a chemical that brings up good feelings. Once again, the long-term effects are far more detrimental to the depressed person’s physical and mental well-being. The brain will eventually become numb to the nicotine and make less dopamine than before, compelling people to smoke more, compromising their respiratory system.  

A post from BrainFacts.org suggests that people with schizophrenia are three times more likely to use nicotine than others, likely because of the cognitive effects of the nicotine. There are also negative side effects when nicotine is coupled with certain medications. There are studies that indicate refrain from smoking has the same benefits as taking antidepressants medication. However, the science community is still researching and scrutinizing the relationships and correlations between smoking and psychological conditions such as depression and schizophrenia.  

Should you choose to stop smoking, first contemplate your relationship with nicotine and write down what you get out of smoking and then how your life changes without it, including physical improvements and more money in your budget to invest in other things.  

Once you have a crystal-clear goal in mind, it is time to seek help, which could be from family and friends, counseling, therapy, or yourself. In fact, encourage your friends and family to stop smoking altogether if they are also smokers. It is wise to avoid being around others who smoke or certain things/situations that may entice you to smoke more. For example, many people tend to smoke when drinking alcohol or coffee and reducing your intake of those things may help you avoid cigarettes as well. Substitute smoking with other exciting activities, such as exercise, healthy eating, and meditation.  

Nicotine replacement therapy, or NRT, also helps. There are many NRT products on the market such as patches, gum, lozenges, sprays, or inhalers. These products can help reduce the physical withdrawal symptoms when quitting cigarettes as they contain nicotine but not all the other harmful chemicals that you get when smoking cigarettes. E-cigarettes are another option for some people to quit smoking, as they allow you to inhale nicotine without burning tobacco and producing tar or carbon monoxide, the most dangerous components of traditional cigarette smoking. However, E-cigarettes do still come with some risks, so it is important to understand those if you want to use these as a method of quitting smoking.  

This is not an easy feat, just like many addictions, nicotine addiction is physically grappling. But there are so many benefits to living a life smoke-free. You deserve to enjoy those. Remember that your mental health matters and deserves to be prioritized. RPSV has been helping adults in mental health, addiction, and homeless recovery since 2011 through our free services and programs. If you need support just reach out to us. RPSVA.org   

Author: Steph O. Website Administration