How Nicotine Addiction Works

Using tobacco is more than just a series of "bad habits." It's a physical addiction. So let's talk about addiction in a real way.

Few people realize how nicotine actually changes their brain. Dr. Richard Hurt was the Founding Director of the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center. In the videos below, Dr. Hurt explains the physical nature of addiction to nicotine and just how powerful it can be. He'll also tell you how medication can DOUBLE your chances of quitting and help you pick the right one for you.

Some people don't want to use medication to quit, 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. We hear that from a lot of people here on EX. Take just a few minutes to hear what Dr. Hurt has to say and then make up your mind.

Quitting Medications: Non-Nicotine Medication

You also may want to try one of two non-nicotine quit smoking medications in addition to a nicotine replacement therapy. One is called bupropion (brand name: Zyban®). It has an effect on the nicotine receptors in your brain through a chemical associated with the pleasure of using tobacco. The other is called varenicline (brand name: Chantix™). This medication acts like nicotine and fools the receptors in the brain into believing they've already had their dose of nicotine. Prescriptions are needed for both medications. Check out Dr. Hurt's advice in the video to the right.

Nicotine Addiction and Quit Medications

Next, consider quit medications that may work for you, as well as alternative options.

*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.

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