Do you find yourself smoking more often than you should? If so, there’s a chance that your body has become dependent on nicotine and its effects. This stimulant drug can make you feel better, which is how many people become addicted to smoking.

If you or someone close to you is starting to make poor decisions because of the addiction, there are several forms of treatment you can select from, one of which is Nicotine Anonymous (NiCA). Just like Alcoholics Anonymous, Nicotine Anonymous’s primary purpose is to provide people with the tools and education they need to lead a drug-free life.

Nicotine Anonymous

What Is Nicotine Anonymous?

Nicotine Anonymous is a nonprofit organization support group that’s comprised of individuals who have previously suffered from nicotine addiction or nicotine users. This group holds intergroup regular meetings with men and women to support one another with the goal of living a life that doesn’t have nicotine in it.

Membership to Nicotine Anonymous is free. You’ll discover that the group uses a 12-step recovery program (the Twelve Traditions or the Twelve Steps program) to facilitate a more spiritual approach to nicotine recovery. All principles included in the 12-step program have been listed in the Big Book (Nicotine Anonymous: The Book or NiCa literature), which is part of Alcoholics Anonymous as well.

Causes of Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine is a chemical found in tobacco that’s designed to keep you smoking. When you smoke, nicotine will reach your brain in seconds. Once it gets there, it causes the brain to release chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which are able to regulate behavior and mood.

One of these neurotransmitters is dopamine, which is sent to the brain’s reward center and can result in feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Over time, you’ll need to smoke an increasing amount of nicotine to experience the same feelings of pleasure. Nicotine can eventually become part of your everyday life. The main scenarios that trigger people to smoke include:

  • Driving your car
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Talking with someone on the phone
  • Drinking coffee
  • Spending time with your friends

If you want to find a way to overcome your dependence on nicotine, it’s important that you’re aware of what your triggers are. Even if you only smoke on occasion, you’re always at risk of eventually becoming dependent. The most common risk factors for nicotine dependence include:

  • Genetics – People who have inherited certain genetic factors might be more likely to smoke since the brain’s nerve cells will respond better to higher doses of nicotine.
  • Age – The majority of people start smoking during their childhood or teenage years. Younger people are more likely to become addicted.
  • Depression or similar mental illnesses – Anyone who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, schizophrenia, or another type of mental illness will be more likely to begin smoking.
  • Peers and parents – Children who live among parents or friends who smoke are more likely to try the drug.
  • Substance use – People who are already abusing illegal drugs or alcohol may smoke as well.

Symptoms of Nicotine Addiction

Some of the signs and symptoms of nicotine addiction include:

  • You are experiencing withdrawal symptoms but are unable to stop taking the drug. Any attempt at stopping can lead to some mood-related and physical symptoms, which extend to potent cravings, irritability, anxiety, difficulties concentrating, depression, anger, insomnia, diarrhea, or constipation.
  • You continue to smoke even though you’re experiencing health issues because of it. The most common issues pertain to the heart and lungs.
  • You won’t stop smoking and have made one or more attempts to do so.
  • You no longer perform social activities with your family or friends.

Potential Complications

Along with the fact that your body can become more dependent on this drug over time, there are also many health complications that you could experience if you smoke regularly. In fact, tobacco smoke is known to consist of over 60 cancer-causing chemicals as well as hundreds of other substances that have proven to be harmful to a person’s health. Even if the cigarettes you smoke are advertised as herbal or “all-natural” cigarettes, they still contain harmful chemicals.

People who smoke are more likely to suffer from certain lung and heart diseases than people who aren’t currently smoking. The main health issues you should be on the lookout for include:

  • Lung disease and lung cancer – Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer and can lead to such lung-related diseases as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. If you have asthma, your symptoms could worsen.
  • Heart and circulatory system issues – Smoking will increase your risk of blood vessels and heart disease, which extend to strokes and heart attacks. If you’re suffering from heart failure, smoking will invariably worsen this condition.
  • Other cancer types – Smoking can increase your risk of developing cancer in your pancreas, cervix, bladder, esophagus, larynx, pharynx, and mouth. Smoking is known to cause around 30% of deaths.
  • Diabetes – Smoking can worsen your insulin resistance, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. The development of diabetes complications is also expedited when you smoke.
  • Infertility – Smoking can increase the risk of impotence in men and less fertility in women.
  • Eye issues – Smoking can cause you to develop cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Pregnancy complications – A mother who smokes while she is pregnant will experience a higher risk of a preterm delivery.
  • Cold and flu problems – Smokers are more likely to develop respiratory infections, the primary of which include the flu, colds, and bronchitis.
  • Gum and tooth disease – When you smoke, your gums are more susceptible to inflammation and infection, which can lead to periodontitis.
Nicotine Anonymous Meeting

How Does Nicotine Anonymous Work?

Every member of Nicotine Anonymous is expected to focus on the 12-step process as often as possible. These steps are designed to help the affected individual seek a higher power for aid during recovery. The 12 steps that are included in this program were adapted directly from the AA 12-step program.

If you’re new to Nicotine Anonymous, you can obtain a copy of these steps to study them in your free time. Over time, these steps might help you understand more about yourself and why you started smoking in the first place. The 12 steps in this program include:

  • Admit that you’re currently powerless over your nicotine addiction and that you’re no longer able to manage your life.
  • Believe that a higher power is out there who can assist you in getting your life back on the right track.
  • Make a personal decision to turn yourself to God.
  • Take a comprehensive moral inventory of yourself to identify your bad and good traits.
  • Admit to yourself, God, and others that you aren’t perfect.
  • Request that God remove your bad character traits.
  • Request that God remove your dishonesty, anxiety, fears, or other actions that might be a shortcoming.
  • Compile an extensive list of anyone who you have hurt before and the steps you can take to make this right.
  • Ask for forgiveness from anyone you might have hurt.
  • Continue taking inventory of yourself on a daily basis.
  • Meditate and pray regularly.
  • Help other individuals learn the same principles when attempting to recover from nicotine addiction.

Who Should Attend Nicotine Anonymous Meetings?

If you believe that you might be suffering from an addiction to nicotine and have made an appointment with your doctor, you may be asked questions about your smoking habits. Upon a face-to-face meeting, once your doctor can determine how dependent your body is on nicotine, they can help you seek an effective treatment plan.

In most cases, smoking a high number of cigarettes every day will make you more dependent than someone who only smokes 1-2 cigarettes every other day. If you’ve attempted to stop smoking before but have been unable to do so without help, there’s a good chance that you would benefit from Nicotine Anonymous.

Call Long Island Interventions, an addiction recovery provider,  today for more information on addiction help!

Published on: 2022-12-14
Updated on: 2024-04-10