Psychology Resources
John J. Wagner, Licensed Clinical Psychologist # 6292

Tobacco-Nicotine Addiction

According to the Centers of Disease Control, cigarettes kill more people than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined. Cigarettes kill approximately 480,000 Americans each year.  That is 1,300 deaths a day and approximately one in five American deaths. Additionally, another 42,000 Americans die each year from second hand smoke.  Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States; and, for every one person who dies from smoking, about 30 more suffer from a least one serious tobacco related illness.  Despite these grim facts, approximately 42 million Americans continue to smoke.  Why?  Nicotine is one of the most addicted substance on the planet.  Thankfully, there is help available.

Studies have shown that 20 minutes after you stop smoking, blood pressure and heart rates return to normal.  Most people are not successful quitting cigarettes on their first attempt, yet studies have shown that those individuals that continue trying, have a much greater chance of success.  The leading treatments for nicotine addiction are counseling, coupled with either nicotine replacement therapy (e.g. nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and nicotine lozenges…) or medication (Most notable Bupropion and Varenicline).  Most studies report that a combination of counseling and either nicotine replacement therapy or medication is more effective the either treatments alone. 

According to research, the most effective types of counseling to end tobacco use include Practical Counseling/Behavioral Methods, Social Support, and Group Counseling.  NetPsych Online Counseling practices  Practical Counseling/Behavioral Methods in which individuals learn triggers for nicotine use, learn to apply alternative behavior strategies to implement pattern interruption, become adept at apply coping and stress reduction strategies, and learn to apply Practical-Solution Focused Strategies.

Some Practical-Solution Focused Strategies include:  Setting a quit date, notifying friends, family and co-workers or your plans  to quit (in order to gather support), anticipating challenges, anticipating and preventing withdraw symptoms, removing tobacco from your environment, remembering past attempts to quit - focusing on what helped and what did not, limiting alcohol, and avoiding and replacing triggers.

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More information:

The National Center for Biotechnology Information analyzed 8,700 research articles and has formulated guidelines for nicotine addiction treatment.  The latest guidelines can be viewed at:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK63948/

Another Institution providing helpful information for nicotine addiction treatment is the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which can be visited at:
www.drugabuse.gov