Nicotine Addictions

Isabelle Kreydin

People living with mental illness have a high rate of tobacco addiction. In America, 44.3% of all cigarettes are consumed by individuals who live with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. What’s it mean to be addicted? You might have problems paying attention, trouble sleeping, appetite change, and/or powerful cravings for tobacco at least once a day.

The nicotine in any tobacco product absorbs into ones blood when a person uses it. Upon entering the blood, nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline. Nicotine increases levels of the chemical dopamine, which affects parts of the brain that control reward and pleasure. Those who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. commonly lack a consistent flow of dopamine (as well as other neurotransmitters), and the nicotine can therefore be a sort of temporary enhancer and mood booster.

The addiction itself however, is more about the lies one feeds to himself, the subconscious thought that the cigarettes, e-cigarette or other drug will truly fill a void in the addict’s mind or body. Those struggling with addiction have something in common: an ache that they believe can be dimmed. Whether it’s simply a drug to relieve temptation, or tension in the mind or of thoughts, it’s still an unhealthy coping mechanism.

Like most drug addictions, nicotine only provides one with temporary relief or a brief time away from reality. Every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illness. Please do not be one of those statistics.

Smoking is known to cause heart disease, stroke and lung disease, among other medical problems. Second-generation atypical antipsychotic medications (SGAs) cause an increased risk of heart disease, so it’s important that individuals living with mental illness quit smoking. Like an e-cigarette, smokeless tobacco products contain 3 to 4 times more nicotine than cigarettes and contain substances that increase risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancer. If you ever wanted to quit your addiction in the future, it would only be more difficult, as your body becomes dependent on the chemicals and drugs you chose to feed it. Recovery is a long process, however very possible.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or any other kind of addiction, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

 

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