Nicotine Dependence (Quitting Smoking)

Nicotine dependence is well-treated using naturopathic medicine.

Nicotine dependence is an addiction to tobacco products (usually cigarettes) caused by the drug nicotine. Nicotine dependence refers to the inability to stop using nicotine-containing products.

The cause of nicotine dependence is the chemical nicotine found in cigarettes. It increases the release of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters), including dopamine, that temporarily causes pleasant physical and psychological sensations. There are more than 60 known cancer-causing chemicals, and more than 4800 other harmful substances known to be present in cigarettes.

Smoking can cause harm to almost every organ in your body and is related to significantly increased rates of heart disease and stroke; many cancers; lung diseases; diabetes mellitus; infertility and impotence; a variety of obstetrical concerns (e.g., increased risk of miscarriage, pre-term delivery and newborn complications); colds and flu; impaired senses (e.g., smell, taste); “aging” and early death.

Seek professional healthcare if you have attempted to stop smoking unsuccessfully.

Symptoms of Nicotine Dependence

Possible symptoms of nicotine dependence include:

  • Continuing to smoke (or use other tobacco products) after one or more serious attempts to stop
  • Giving up social or recreational activities to smoke (or use other tobacco products)
  • Craving for tobacco products
  • Anxiety, irritability and restlessness
  • Frustration or anger
  • Depressed mood
  • Poor concentration
  • Increased hunger
  • Insomnia 
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Treatment of Nicotine Dependence at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine

At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, the goals of a smoking cessation program are to reduce the intensity and frequency of tobacco cravings, manage associated health conditions, to provide on-going psychological support and prevent relapse.

Conventional assistance for smoking cessation may include counseling, and variety of medications, including nicotine replacement therapy (e.g., nicotine patch, nicotine gum) and non-nicotine medications including antidepressants. These treatments may have short- or long-term side effects.

For this reason, you may choose to try natural treatment to possibly avoid use of conventional medications, or together with conventional medications in order to decrease dosages of conventional medications required to stop smoking.

Naturopathic treatment of any chronic health concern must be recognized as a process that involves:

  • Identifying specific treatment goals
  • Development by your naturopathic doctor, of a thorough understanding of all factors affecting your health, including physical, psychological, emotional and lifestyle factors
  • Development of a comprehensive treatment plan
  • Implementation and maintenance of that plan through periodic monitoring and adjustment

At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, a typical approach to treating nicotine dependence may be to:

  • Identify and address underlying factors in your lifestyle (e.g., stress management issues, peer group who smoke) or general health (e.g., depression) that may be contributing to nicotine dependence
  • Decrease severity of tobacco cravings using acupuncture or botanical (herbal) medicines

Where appropriate, a number of therapeutic options are available, to be used alone, or more often in a complementary fashion, including:

Treatments provided by naturopathic doctors and registered massage therapists are covered by most extended healthcare plans.

References

Nicotine dependence [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; [cited 2010 Jan 16]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nicotine-dependence/DS00307.

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