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Seeing a Psychiatrist for Nicotine Addiction
While quitting smoking might feel like an impossible task, seeing a psychiatrist can help with the process. There are many smokers who recognize the negative physical and mental health effects of tobacco products on the body, but a nicotine addiction can make stopping difficult. Additionally, stopping all consumption of nicotine at once can lead to undesirable withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to help people stop smoking and live a healthier lifestyle.
When using tobacco products, it is the drug nicotine within the product that causes an addiction. This drug initiates the release of dopamine in the body, causing a short-lasting buzz that can make the user experience a wave of relief or pleasure. When nicotine consumption stops, the body becomes uncomfortable and craves more. This results in a dependence on the drug, as not using it causes withdrawal symptoms.
There are several signs that the use of tobacco products has transitioned into a nicotine addiction. For one, the individual might attempt to stop smoking, sometimes due to health problems, but be unable to stop. A person’s social life might be affected as the individual stops visiting certain locations or socializing with family members or friends because of not being able to smoke. A variety of physical and mental withdrawal symptoms can affect the person as well:
- Depression or anxiety
- Irritability and restlessness
- Difficult concentrating
- Frustration and anger
- Increased hunger
- Constipation or diarrhea
How a psychiatrist can help
When dealing with a nicotine dependence, it helps to remember that the addiction is both physical and mental. For this reason, working with a psychiatrist who can make a treatment plan that addresses both the physical aspect of addiction along with the mental side can be beneficial for a person with a nicotine addiction.
Nicotine replacement therapy
One way a doctor can help a patient dealing with a nicotine addiction is to start by replacing tobacco products with other nicotine products that releases nicotine in slower doses. The goal of nicotine replacement therapy is to continue decreasing the dose of nicotine until the patient can stop completely. This can help patients avoid some withdrawal symptoms and alleviate cravings. While some products such as nicotine gum, lozenges and patches can be purchases over the counter, a nicotine inhaler or nasal spray most often needs to be prescribed.
Behavioral treatment and medication
Counseling sessions can be helpful for patients alone or in combination with nicotine replacement therapy or medication. A psychiatrist can either provide these sessions or refer the patient to a counselor who can. Also, certain medications can be helpful in treating a nicotine addiction, such as Varenicline, Clonidine or Bupropion. It is important that patients let the doctor know about any other mental or physical health conditions before using these medications.
A nicotine addiction can have many long-term negative effects on a person’s health, but quitting at any point can make a huge difference. Seeing a psychiatrist can help patients get the support and solutions they need to successfully stop using tobacco products.
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