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Quit Smoking and Manage Withdrawal Symptoms

Addiction to nicotine is a difficult dependence to give up, and many smokers find themselves trying to quit smoking and kick the habit over and over again. Working with a knowledgeable mental health professional who can prescribe medication to not only help you quit, but help you manage withdrawal symptoms may be the only way you can finally succeed and break the hold nicotine has on your life.

Quit Smoking Statistics

If you are a smoker who wants desperately to quit smoking but have been unable to succeed on your own, you are not alone:

  • 70% of smokers want to quit
  • 40% of smokers will try to quit this year
  • 7% of those who try to quit will actually succeed on their first try; 93% will not
  • 50% of those who quit will relapse after drinking alcohol
  • 5% of smokers are able to quit cold turkey

If you are one of the 93% who are unable to quit the first time, second time, or successive times, it is time to seek the professional help you need in order to become an ex-smoker.

  • 90% of those who quit smoking before the age of 30 reduce their rate of death related to smoking
  • 50% of those who quit before the age of 50 reduce their rate of death from smoking

Signs of Severe Smoking Dependence

Smokers who are seriously dependent on nicotine may exhibit one or more of the following signs:

  • Smoking more than 1 pack of cigarettes a day
  • Smoking within 5 minutes of waking up in morning or from a nap
  • Continuing to smoke even when sick
  • Waking up at night to have a smoke
  • Smoking to help with symptoms of nicotine withdrawal

If you have even a couple of these signs of smoking dependence enlisting the aid of an addiction psychiatrist is thebest plan for success in smoking cessation.

Prescription Medications to Stop Smoking

Your psychiatrist has numerous medications available to prescribe and can provide referrals to support and adjunct services when developing your treatment plan to stop smoking, end nicotine addiction, and reduce any unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

The medications that may be prescribed include:

  • Chantix (varenicline) – this medication not only lessens the pleasure one gets from smoking by interfering with nicotine receptors in the brain; it also reduces the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Chantix helps you lose your craving for smoking and nicotine.
  • Zyban, Wellbutrin or Aplenzin (bupropion) – the medication bupropion is known under three different brand names. It is an extended release anti-depressant that helps reduce cravings and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
  • Nortriptyline – this is an older anti-depressant drug that helps reduce tobacco withdrawal symptoms
  • Clonidine – this medication, used to treat high blood pressure has also been shown to help people quit smoking. When used as part of a smoking cessation plan it is often given in pill or skin patch form.
  • Other medications and even anti-smoking vaccines are being tested in Europe and the United States but are not yet FDA approved. Your psychiatrist has access to the most effective medications and strategies for a successful program to quit smoking with the least interference from withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine Addiction Psychiatrist

If you want to successfully quit smoking call Dr. Hege for a convenient evening or weekend appointment and begin a new life as an ex-smoker.

Stop Smoking: Anxiety, Craving Areas of Brain Activated

The American Cancer Society reports that 20%, or over 40 million American adults currently smoke. With public education efforts it is well known that smoking has a multitude of damaging effects on the body including heart disease, stroke, oral cancer, colon cancer, or emphysema. In addition 90% of lung cancers can be linked to smoking. The difficulty with quitting is that smoking is both a physical and mental process; the addictive qualities of nicotine compare to heroin addiction.

Quitting Without Medication

Research data show that only 4 to 6 percent of adults who try to quit by themselves succeed. Use of nicotine replacement therapy, support groups or quit-smoking aids brings the success rate up to 16 to 24 percent. That number increases to between 25 and 33 percent when medications like Zyban or Chantix are added into a medically monitored treatment plan. Being able to quit smoking is a difficult task best tackled with a physician or psychiatrist who understands the addiction and the medications that work.

The Addiction of Nicotine

Two recent prominent studies have reported results that pinpoint specific regions of the brain that make it difficult for some people to be successful at quitting smoking. The one region, interpeduncular nucleus, is packed with nicotine receptors, with this area triggering anxiety responses during nicotine withdrawal. The other region of the brain, the insula, a large region that is viewed as the seat of addictive urges and cravings.  The insula becomes active when a smoker not only craves a cigarette, but when they are just thinking about smoking — a double-edged sword of anxiety and cravings to face when trying to quit smoking.

Quit Smoking with Nicotine Withdrawal Doctor

Call Dr. Darvin Hege to break the physical and psychological addiction that nicotine has on you. He may prescribe medications, nicotine replacement treatments, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychological support adjunct groups or other individualized treatment options to help you succeed and break the nicotine habit. Call the office today.

Nicotine Addiction Harder for Women to Break

Male smokers account for significantly higher numbers than female smokers, with the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting worldwide numbers that show men smoke about 5 times as much as women. In the U.S., with an estimated 47 million smokers, 24% of men smoke compared to 18% of women. The numbers for nicotine addiction in Georgia run slightly lower with 23% of male smokers versus 15% of women smokers.

Men vs. Women on Nicotine Addiction

Research has shown more men have a nicotine addiction than women. Data also shows that women make fewer attempts to quit smoking, quit for shorter periods of time for each attempt, and smoke for a longer period of time over their lifetime than men. Males with a nicotine addiction report an easier time than females when trying to “kick the habit.”

Hormonal Fluctuations Often Keep Women Smoking

The Psychiatry Journal published a new study from the University of Montreal detailing the impact the menstrual cycle has on the strength of nicotine cravings. Adding in the symptoms that accompany the menstrual cycle results in frequent lengthy times when the decision to quit smoking is at battle with the incontrollable urge to smoke.

The university’s data indicates that the urge to smoke is strongest for a period of time after the monthly menses; additionally decreases in both estrogen and progesterone during a woman’s cycle significantly deepen any withdrawal symptoms at the same time those with a nicotine addiction crave a “smoke.”

Five Top Reasons Women Have Harder Time Ending Nicotine Addiction

  • Stress and anxiety are the top relapse triggers for women
  • Women tend to experience more severe withdrawal symptoms than men
  • Smoking cessation products (nicotine gum, nicotine patches, etc) more effective in men due to gender differences in how nicotine affects the brain; females are typically less responsive to products to help end nicotine addiction
  • Weight gain is a frequent reason women start smoking again
  • Fluctuating hormones that occur monthly during the menstrual cycle often de-rail attempts at quitting

An experienced and well-practiced psychiatrist will consider the different effectiveness of treatment unique to women when designing the overall medication and treatment plan to successfully achieve smoking cessation.

Dr. Darvin Hege is the local psychiatrist of choice for your nicotine addiction and smoking cessation. Medication and adjunct therapies may be part of your recovery from nicotine addiction. Let a doctor design a treatment plan that meets your unique needs. Dr. Hege’s office is located in Atlanta in the Sandy Springs/Dunwoody area, and he provides convenient appointment times for patients who need flexible hours.