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When you think of drug addiction, you may imagine a drug such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. However, you might be surprised that the most widely abused drug is nicotine. This drug is found in cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products. 

Nicotine may not seem like a dangerous drug since smoking is legal for adults. While you can’t necessarily overdose on most nicotine-containing substances in the same way you can on other drugs, you can become toxic from ingesting the juice made for vaping devices and suffer long-term damage to your body. Cigarette smoke is especially toxic, containing more than 5,000 chemicals. 

While tobacco use has declined in the past few decades, it is still widely consumed, with more than 34 million Americans still smoking or using other tobacco products regularly. Nicotine is highly addictive, with many cigarette users wanting to quit but finding it difficult to do so. In fact, many people quit multiple times, with little success.

But you can quit, and if you’re ready to do so, there is help available. Pinnacle Treatment Centers can help you quit nicotine and other substances. 

What Does Nicotine Do?

Nicotine is classified as both a central nervous system stimulant and a depressant. When a person uses cigarettes, cigars, or chewing tobacco, the nicotine is rapidly absorbed into their bloodstream. The brain experiences the effects in just a few seconds. 

At first, nicotine releases epinephrine, a hormone that induces feelings of pleasure. It also releases beta-endorphin, a hormone that inhibits pain. Then the drug acts as a depressant, causing a person to feel relaxed and euphoric. This causes the person to use more cigarettes, which leads to chronic use and addiction.

Ashtray full of cigarette butts

How Does Nicotine Affect the Body?

Nicotine has a widespread effect on the human body. It can cause damage to nearly every organ, and smokers generally die earlier than non-smokers. 

One of the biggest threats to smokers is lung cancer. Tobacco use also increases the risk of developing the following conditions:

  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood clots
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchitis

Tobacco products can also cause many other cancers, such as:

  • Stomach
  • Pancreatic
  • Kidney
  • Bladder
  • Laryngeal
  • Esophageal
  • Cervical

Smoking affects women in specific ways as well. Those who smoke while taking oral contraceptives have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, women who smoke while pregnant are more likely to have a child who is premature, stillborn, or with chronic medical conditions. 

Nicotine Treatment Options

Even if you’ve been smoking for decades, it’s never too late to quit. The most successful treatments for those who want to quit tobacco use involve both behavioral therapies and medications. Varenicline (more commonly known as Chantix) is a typically used anti-smoking aid. However, it is not used for teens who smoke since its effectiveness on younger people is not well-studied. 

Behavioral therapy is especially helpful and can be done in person or remotely. This type of therapy helps patients identify triggers that cause them to smoke and teaches them effective coping strategies, such as relaxation techniques. 

Patches and gums are also available to help you quit smoking by slowly releasing nicotine into your body. They manage cravings and help prevent withdrawal symptoms. Many people try to quit cold turkey, but this is the least effective way to do so.

About Pinnacle Treatment Centers

At Pinnacle Treatment Centers, we understand there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. Everyone responds differently, which is why we offer flexible treatment options. Our modern approaches are customized to fit your needs. 

Our staff will focus on you. We want to find what works for you, so we offer custom therapy plans. We can help you get through your addiction with individual and family therapy and counseling, yoga, mindfulness, exercise, and outdoor activities. We look forward to helping you learn more about diagnosis and treatment. 

Contact Us Today

Long-term Tobacco use can lead to a variety of health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and death. Let Pinnacle Treatment Centers help you quit smoking. A tobacco-free life is within reach. Contact us today so we can create a treatment plan that’s right for you.

The materials provided on the Pinnacle Blog are for information and educational purposes only. No behavioral health or any other professional services are provided through the Blog and the information obtained through the Blog is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified health professional. If you are in need of medical or behavioral health treatment, please contact a qualified health professional directly, and if you are in need of emergency help, please go to your nearest emergency room or dial 911.