Nicotine relapse or smoking relapse is a very common problem among the smokers. They know the harms of smoking, or even know how to quit it.
But not smoking for the rest of their life often seems impossible. To make things worse, all these may happen even when they are taking some medications to cut down the urges.
They stay clean for a few days or months, something wrong happens with their thoughts, and they slip back again. The degree of nicotine dependence is so high that they may restart smoking even a decade after discontinuing it. However, the risk of nicotine relapse decreases proportionately to the time of abstinence.
A Quick Overview Of Nicotine
Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical that they obtain by consuming different tobacco products. To get their dose, they may smoke a cigarette or cigar. Similarly, chewing or snuffing also provides enough of it to cause the dependence.
While tobacco products contain thousands of chemicals, only nicotine is responsible for causing a dependence. It’s not clear if it causes cancer. But other harmful chemicals that enter the body through the smoke cause various types of cancer. As a matter of fact, there is not a system in the body that smoking does not harm.
How Smoking Causes Addiction?
When you take the first puff of the cigarette, a certain amount of nicotine enters the bloodstream quickly. This is in contrast to chewing tobacco. Then, it reaches the brain.
Because it is soluble in oil, it can readily cross the biological barriers in the brain. This whole process takes approximately 10 seconds.
Once inside the brain, it increases the activity of a brain chemical which they call dopamine. It then starts a series of physical and psychological symptoms of Nicotine use. The short-term effects of smoking are pleasurable and relaxing. Thus, making it the main reason why quitting smoking it is so difficult.
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In fact, many other addictive substances also work in a similar manner. That is by activating the dopamine pathway in the brain.
Factors That May Lead To High Nicotine Relapse Rate
It’s not only that activated dopamine plays a solo role in Nicotine relapse. In fact, it occurs due to a series of complex mechanisms in the brain. Individual genetic, physical and psychological characteristics have their share. Many of them are still unknown. New scientific studies have shed on various other factors too. They include:
- Quick and short-term high: Smoking is one of the most efficient ways to get a quick high. Most notably, the high wears out within a few minutes causing a need for another cigarette. Understandably, smoking relapse is far more common than you think.
- Changes in communication mechanism inside the brain: They suggest Nicotine relapse is triggered by a dysfunctional communication between the brain cells. Moreover, it may also lead to low moods, mild anxiety, and irritation. Regrettably, these mood changes again trigger a smoking relapse.
- Long and quick withdrawal: Within a few hours after you had your last cigarette, the withdrawal periods starts. Unfortunately, the duration of withdrawal may last as long as a few months. This is the time when you are more likely to smoke again.
- More prominent psychological dependence: During an abstinence, severe physical symptoms are less likely. Nicotine affects your senses. For example, how you would feel if you were smoking, handling a cigarette or even lighting it. All these psychological experiences provoke you to light a cigarette right at the moment. In essence, it affects how you experience the whole process of smoking.
Fast Facts On Nicotine Relapse
- As a matter of fact, as many as 80% of the smokers who are trying to quit fall victim to Nicotine relapse. Unlike the withdrawal from other addictive substances like heroin or cocaine, nicotine withdrawal does not produce severe symptoms.
- The rate of smoking relapse drops to less than 1% after ten years of abstinence. Between 2 to 6 years after abstinence, the rate is almost 4%.
- If you do not smoke for two years, your chances of not having a smoking relapse for the rest of your life surges to 80%.
What You Can Do
If you are failing to quit smoking completely, do not feel bad. Remember what Mark Twain once said about smoking relapse.
“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”
Here are some tips that may help you prevent Nicotine relapse.
- Stay motivated: One or even a hundred failures should not hold you back. Do not lose the sight of your goal. The benefits of quitting are definitely worth these failures.
- Avoid the situations or environment that may provoke you to smoke.
- Indulge in some pleasurable activity. Distraction is key to making your urges less powerful. Think of playing some sports, joining a gym or dancing to your favorite music.
- Talk to a doctor if these self-management measures are not working. Ask if you need medications.
Want To Know More?
Talk to the experts to know more about Nicotine relapse. If you or anyone you love has an addiction, you should talk to an addiction counselor. They can teach ways to deal with the cravings, prevent relapses. Finally, the addict will be on their way to a full recovery.
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