Nicotine, the addictive chemical found in tobacco products, works in the same way that other addictive drugs do by causing the brain to release a naturally-occurring chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is in charge of making the brain feel reward and pleasure. The brain becomes addicted to the release of dopamine, causing tobacco and drug users to seek out their substance of choice until they feel as if they have no control over their addiction. As if nicotine wasn’t hard enough to quit, studies have shown that nicotine may be as addictive as cocaine.
Health care providers may not address their patients’ tobacco use because they may fully understand that tobacco use is as much of an addiction as other drugs that their patients may be using. In reality, a recovering addict’s tobacco use may be a major hurdle in the path to becoming sober because it makes them more likely to relapse. Tobacco treatment needs to be a cornerstone when it comes to treating drug addiction.
The Freedom to Live campaign is designed to help those with mental health and substance abuse problems to overcome their addictions. Learn more about it in the video below and click here to request a toolkit.