IS QUITTING NICOTINE HARDER THAN QUITTING HEROIN?
- July 12, 2018
A survey showed that most long-term smokers tried to quit smoking 7.4 times and were unable to fully quit. One of the reasons quitting smoking may be harder than quitting heroin is that smokers report that they would rather do work than visit an addiction treatment center. 35% would rather clean house, 27% would rather pay bills, 22% would rather work overtime, and 18% would rather eat with in-laws than seek professional help for their smoking addiction.
Even after knowing that smoking causes cancer and other health issues, 53 million people in the United States alone continue to smoke. Scientists are now saying that quitting nicotine is as difficult to quit as heroin or cocaine. This is because nicotine has very similar properties to heroin, but advertisements and stores would never admit that. Nicotine and alkaloid are both found in plants and they both affect neurotransmitters in the brain. Heroin activates pain killing neurotransmitters and nicotine activates neurotransmitters for memory and conduction of nerve signals.
An experiment with 8 drug users showed that people often confuse the effects of nicotine with the effects of meth or morphine. This shows that nicotine can produce close to the same pleasure responses as more mainstream, hardcore drugs. Smokers generally receive 200 hits of nicotine a day, which gives them a fleeting feeling of pleasure as the brain constantly waits for the next hit to keep the pleasure going. Nicotine also has similar withdrawal symptoms to attempting to quit heroin, like anxiety, irritability, restlessness, cravings, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, drowsiness, and decreased heart rate. Even when remaining abstinent from cigarettes for a while, cravings can be triggered by everyday objects or places.
Designated places for smoking can trigger a relapse of nicotine. Being around people who smoke and hearing about smoking can all trigger an individual to start smoking again. Cravings have the tendency to sneak up on individuals and may even be subconsciously triggered by places where the smoker used to smoke. It takes a full 72 hours for nicotine to fully leave the body and it takes at least 3 months for the brain to fully reset after quitting smoking. The first 3 days are the hardest when it comes to quitting nicotine because each day increases the carvings until they peak at the end of the third day.
Doctors recommend weaning off smoking with nicotine replacement therapy. There are chewing gums, patches, and now vaping that can be used in nicotine replacement therapy. The first step to quitting smoking is to establish why you want to quit. Giving yourself a good enough reason to quit will serve as motivation to quit when withdrawal symptoms become challenging. Find out why you smoke, whether it be stress or a long day, and try to find alternatives to smoking to deal with the stress of a long day. Change up your routine if you smoke while doing a certain activity because that activity could be enough to trigger a relapse. Replace the oral addiction to smoking with sticks of wood, celery, or anything else that resembles a cigarette. Let people help you quit by telling them about your desire to quit.
If you feel that you cannot quit, consider visiting a treatment center. These centers offer professional assistance in quitting all kinds of substances, so if you are a last resort kind of person and still find yourself smoking, go to a treatment center like Asana Recovery. Asana Recovery is unique in its supportive environment and offers a wide range of therapies to serve specific needs. Call (949) 438-4504 to learn more about their treatment programs.