Nicotine, as we commonly know it, comes in the form of cigarettes. Along with alcohol, nicotine is the most used addictive substance. In a 2015 survey done in the United States, 14% of women and 17% of men smoked. Nicotine affects one’s mental state by making them feel energized, alert, and mentally sharp. Although people experience a mild type of “high” after smoking, nicotine does not trigger the feeling of pleasure or euphoria that other drugs of abuse offer.
Smokers tend to feel calm after a smoke, but research has indicated that the calming effect people experience is in fact a feeling of relief from the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, and not a direct effect of nicotine. However high the number of smokers is, and however satisfying the effects of nicotine are, the majority of smokers are very much aware of the the harmful effects smoking has on their health. Each year in the united states, an estimate of 480,000 people are killed as a result of smoking.
Smokers are at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the esophagus, pneumonia, cold and flu, and much more. Despite these adverse and harmful consequences, individuals with an addiction to nicotine continue to smoke.
However, an average smoker makes several attempts to quit throughout the course of their addiction before quitting for good – eight to ten times to be exact. Smokers experience an array of withdrawal symptoms in the course of their journey to quit, which include: craving cigarettes, impatience, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, lack of concentration, hunger, possible weight gain, nasal drip, dry throat, coughing, gas, and constipation. Withdrawal symptoms resulting from one’s attempt to quit are uncomfortable and difficult to experience, but individuals can easily learn to cope with these symptoms. Quitting is possible for those willing to put in the effort to do so. It is not an easy journey, but one that is worthwhile.
Although they result in their own harmful effects, there are several different alternatives to cigarettes. These alternatives include the following:
- Electronic cigarettes
Each one of these alternatives may also lead to a harmful effect on one’s health and progress. Electronic cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes, but due to users’ continuation of regular cigarettes as well, the effect they have on smokers quitting is unclear. Hookahs are much more harmful than initially thought. In fact, smoking hookah for one hour exposes a person to 200 times the amount of smoke from that of cigarette smoking. Therefore, it is considered to be worse than cigarettes, rather than a safer alternative. As for pipes and cigar smokers, they are exposed to a higher risk of neck and head cancers.
To determine whether your substance use is problematic, please refer to our Substance Use Self-Assessment here.