How Nicotine Addiction Works
So you’ve learned a few things about Re-learning Habit. And you’ve made it through the first part of re-learning life without cigarettes — how to deal with all of the habits you connect with lighting up. But smoking is more than just a series of “bad habits." It's a physical addiction.
So let’s talk about re-learning what you know about addiction. Few people realize how the nicotine in cigarettes actually changes their brain. Dr. Richard Hurt from Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center is a leading expert in the field of smoking cessation. In the videos below, Dr. Hurt explains the physical nature of addiction to cigarettes and just how powerful it can be. He’ll also tell you how medication can DOUBLE your chances of quitting smoking and help you pick the right one for you. Lots of people say they don’t want to use medication to quit smoking, because they think it’s something they should do on their own with just their willpower. Or they’ve tried a medication before and don’t think it worked. If you’re one of those people, all we can say is trust us on this. Just hear what Dr. Hurt has to say and then make up your mind.
When talking about medications to help people stop smoking, it's very important to dispel the myth that nicotine causes cancer. The facts are that nicotine does not cause cancer. Now let me repeat that. Nicotine does NOT cause cancer. It's all the other chemicals in cigarette smoke that are so dangerous. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved as safe and effective, seven medications for treating tobacco dependence. Using medications during an attempt to stop smoking doubles your chances of stopping.
For most smokers, withdrawal symptoms are a big concern. For some people they aren't that bad, but others get anxious, depressed, and, of course, become very irritable. Unfortunately, you don't know how nicotine withdrawal is going to affect you until you stop smoking. Practicing separating cigarettes from your triggers before you quit is a good way to be prepared for what you're going to feel once you stop smoking. And to prevent you from giving up and smoking a cigarette at the first sign of a bad mood, we strongly recommend using a medication such as nicotine replacement products or one of the two approved non-nicotine medications. There are now five nicotine replacement medications and two non-nicotine medications that have been proven to help people to stop smoking and are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat tobacco dependence.
However there are also a bunch of other products that just claim to work but rarely do, so it can be confusing trying to sort through this. The important thing to know is that you should definitely use a medication that has been determined to be safe and effective by the food and drug administration. Now in general, there are two different kinds of medications. Nicotine replacement medications which provide your body with a small dose of nicotine to replace some of the nicotine you lose when you stop smoking, and non-nicotine medications, which act on the receptors in your brain to help you stop smoking. If you use them correctly, all these medications have been shown to at least double your chances of stopping smoking.
Video: Quit Smoking Medication and Myths
Using medication can DOUBLE your chances of quitting smoking. In this video, our resident expert, Dr. Richard Hurt from Mayo Clinic, explains the facts about medication as well as some of the myths. For instance, did you know that nicotine does NOT cause cancer? Nope. It’s all the other chemicals in tobacco smoke that are harmful. Dr. Hurt also gives advice on all the different types of quit smoking medications out there: both nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) and non-nicotine medications.
*Food & Drug Administration Warning
The Food & Drug Administration has warned that both bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix) have been associated with serious adverse effects, including hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicidal thoughts or actions. The risks that are known to be associated with smoking must be balanced against the small, but real risk of these serious adverse effects. People who are taking either bupropion or varenicline and experience any serious and unusual changes in mood or behavior or who feel like hurting themselves or someone else should stop taking the medicine and call their healthcare professional right away. Bupropion, varenicline and nicotine replacement medications are also not recommended for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding without consulting their doctor. Ask your doctor if one of these medications is right for you. As always, read and follow label directions. Also keep in mind that new medications are being developed all the time to help people stop smoking. Ask your doctor if anything new is available.
Can't see the video? Don't stress! Dr. Hurt videos are available to view on the desktop site.