Tobacco is one of the most widely consumed drugs in the world. It is a stimulant that has addictive properties, and it has been a mainstay of human culture for centuries. People smoke cigarettes, cigars and use tobacco in various manners today. Heavy tobacco use carries with it cumulative health complications that can eventually be life-threatening no matter what method is used to ingest it. In the mid-20th century, studies began to show the dangers of tobacco use. Despite this fact, people still use it, because it is addictive.
Common Methods of Use
The most common way of using tobacco is to roll it in a cigarette or cigar or put it in a pipe and inhale the smoke from burning it. People can also chew tobacco as dip or snuff. The common misconception is that chewing tobacco is less harmful than smoking it, but this is not true. No matter how tobacco is taken, it will usually eventually kill the person. In fact, tobacco is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the United States, having caused one in five deaths per year in 2008, according to a report by the Center for Disease Control.
Did You Know?
Tobacco was the leading cash crop in the United States prior to the introduction of cotton.
What are the Dangers of Tobacco?
Because the most frequent method of consumption is smoking, tobacco poses a serious threat to the lungs. It has been linked to lung, throat and heart cancer, as well as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoke of any type aggravates the alveoli of the lungs. Chemicals within cigarette smoke bind to DNA, creating genetic mutations that compound over time.
Smokeless tobacco, such as dip and snuff, has its own problems. These include:
- Tooth decay
- Mouth cancer
- Gum disease (gingivitis)
Is Secondhand Smoke More Dangerous?
People are often pressured into entering tobacco addiction treatment by loved ones because of the dangers of secondhand smoke. In some ways, secondhand smoke is more dangerous than the direct inhalation of smoke. This is because some of the chemicals in cigarette smoke become carcinogens only after undergoing a chemical reaction with enzymes in human tissue. Therefore, exhalation of smoke produces more harmful chemicals that remain in the air hours after smoking. Forty percent of children are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the World Health Organization.
Alternate Means of Taking Nicotine
The nicotine in tobacco is what makes it so addictive to people. Therefore, trying to quit often requires outside help or less harmful nicotine sources. Chewing gum, skin patches that provide a slow release of nicotine into the bloodstream, and electronic cigarettes that use water vapor for smoke are all increasingly popular methods of getting nicotine; however, the ultimate goal is to remove the dependency on nicotine. Therefore, tobacco addiction treatment is often necessary.
Treatment Programs Available
Professional help is sometimes required in order to quit using tobacco, because, when coupled with everyday stressors, the addiction can be difficult to overcome. Inpatient and outpatient rehab treatments are available. Usually, the inpatient phase will consist of tobacco detox. During recovery, no tobacco or nicotine is allowed. After the withdrawal phase is complete, the patient will undergo counseling. These therapy sessions allow the patient and therapist to discuss healthy stress relief strategies to decrease dependence on tobacco.
One function of tobacco addiction treatment is to guide the patient through withdrawal symptoms. Tobacco is one of the most addictive drugs in existence, and it causes uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Some of these symptoms include increased appetite and weight gain, irritability, stress, nausea and insomnia. Withdrawal symptoms typically occur over several months.
Did You Know?
Many people who quit smoking often have help from nicotine patches, gum or medication.
Some tobacco addiction treatment programs may administer special medication to aid the patient in quitting tobacco by alleviating withdrawal symptoms. For example, sleep medication might be prescribed to treat insomnia. The medications prescribed to a patient depend on his or her previous medical history. There is also the possibility of becoming dependent on some medications, but this risk will be assessed by a physician.
Things to Consider
Entering a tobacco addiction treatment program can be expensive, so check with your insurance company to see what they will cover. Have all your medical records available; if you can, get these from your doctor. If you are referred to a treatment center by your doctor, he or she will forward your records to the facility. Plan to be in detox for a few weeks, so notify your employer as necessary. Make sure everyone knows that you are trying to quit smoking so that after you come out of treatment, no one offers you a cigarette. Also, look into joining a local support group. For a referral to a tobacco addiction treatment program that meets your needs, call today.