Nicotine Addiction and Abuse

Modified: 22nd Jul 2019

Rates of cigarette smoking have declined in the United States in recent years.

At the same time, nearly 38 million Americans still smoke cigarettes and consume nicotine (an ingredient found in tobacco) either daily or on an almost-daily basis. 

Many more Americans also consume nicotine in other ways, such as through e-cigarettes and vapes, pipes, cigars, or through smokeless tobacco.

No matter how you consume it, nicotine is still a habit-forming drug. And, as with other habit-forming drugs, long-term nicotine abuse can lead to some serious health problems.

Some of the most important things you need to know about nicotine addiction and abuse are explained below.

Nicotine Addiction Statistics

Globally, an addiction to nicotine is the second-leading cause of death. It’s also the leading cause of preventable death around the world. 

Approximately 32 percent of Americans are dependent on nicotine and consume it on a regular basis.

People of all ages and genders consume nicotine, but some people are more likely than others to become addicted to it.

General Statistics on Addiction to Nicotine

The following people are, generally speaking, the most likely to develop a nicotine addiction:

  • People who have a family history of nicotine addiction
  • People who grew up in homes with other tobacco users
  • People who start smoking at a young age (80 percent of smokers began to smoke before they reached the age of 18)
  • People who abuse other drugs or alcohol
  • People who suffer from one or more mental illnesses

Of course, these factors are not a guarantee that someone will struggle with an addiction to nicotine. They do increase the odds, though.

Signs Of Nicotine Abuse

Like many other drugs, nicotine increases the release of chemicals known as neurotransmitters. One of these neurotransmitters, dopamine, gets released in the brain’s reward center. This brings about feelings of pleasure and an improved mood.

This burst of positivity you experience when consuming nicotine is what keeps you coming back to it on a consistent basis.

When you use nicotine regularly, you’ll likely find that you require more and more in order to experience the same effects as before.

Am I Addicted?

An addiction to nicotine involves certain behaviors and physical changes. 

Many people who are abusing or are addicted to nicotine don’t even realize it. If your nicotine consumption has become a problem, you’ll likely experience the following symptoms:

  • An inability to stop smoking or consuming nicotine, even if you really want to or are experiencing health problems as a result
  • Giving up social or recreational activities so that you can smoke or consume nicotine
  • Isolating yourself from your friends and family in order to smoke or consume nicotine
  • Failing to keep up with responsibilities because you’re too focused on smoking or consuming nicotine
  • Becoming secretive about your behaviors or need to consume nicotine
  • Changes in your mood or cognitive abilities

If you are addicted to nicotine, you will also likely exhibit signs of withdrawal.

Nicotine Withdrawal

Common nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nicotine cravings
  • Mood swings 
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Restlessness or difficulty focusing
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Diarrhea or constipation

If, after evaluating yourself and your behaviors, you find that you are struggling with these symptoms, there’s a good chance you’re also dealing with an addiction to nicotine.

If you are addicted to nicotine, remember that you’re not alone.

Millions of other people also struggle with this addiction, and there are resources out there to help you overcome it. You can make a permanent change in your life if you start seeking out addiction treatment

Dangers of Nicotine Abuse

The longer you consume nicotine, the greater your likelihood of developing the following health conditions: 

  • Lung cancer
  • Lung diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis
  • Cancer of the esophagus, larynx, pharynx, or mouth
  • Cancer of the bladder, pancreas, kidney, or cervix
  • Some forms of leukemia
  • Heart and blood vessel disease (including heart attack or stroke)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cataracts and loss of eyesight
  • Infertility and impotence
  • Pregnancy and newborn complications
  • Teeth and gum disease

Dangers of E-Cigarettes

You’ve most likely heard of the long-term dangers associated with cigarette smoking. But, you might also be under the impression that, if you’re not smoking cigarettes, the risks of nicotine abuse do not apply to you. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

E-cigarettes have become very popular over the last few years, and many people assume that they’re safer than regular cigarettes. It’s true that they contain fewer carcinogens than regular cigarettes. But, they’re still not great for you. 

Regular e-cigarette use is associated with many of the same risks as regular cigarette smoking. This includes an increased risk of heart disease and an increased risk of reproductive issues.

E-cigarettes also contain solvents like propylene glycol and glycerin. 

Propylene glycol can be irritating to the eyes and lungs. When these solvents are heated and vaporized, they also degrade into formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Both of these chemicals are carcinogenic.

Dangers of Chewing Tobacco

Of course, consuming nicotine in the form of chewing tobacco also isn’t good for long-term health. Nicotine abuse in this form has been linked to the following health problems:

  • Cancer of the mouth, throat, tongue, gums, or cheek
  • Cancer of the pancreas and esophagus
  • Precancerous lesions in the mouth (leukoplakia)
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Dental disease
  • Pregnancy and newborn complications

As you can see, nicotine consumption in any form poses a wide range of long-term health risks. Even if you feel perfectly healthy now, if you’re abusing or addicted to nicotine, you’re increasing your chances of experiencing these health problems later in life.

Final Thoughts on Nicotine Addiction and Abuse

Are you struggling with nicotine addiction? Is someone you love abusing nicotine? Either way, we are here to help at Addiction Treatment Services.

Here, we offer a wide range of treatment programs and resources to help you overcome nicotine addiction and abuse once and for all.

Contact us today to learn more about services.

You can reach us 24 hours a day online or through our mobile hotline to get answers to your questions or find out which type of treatment program is appropriate for you.