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MEDICAL TREATMENTS

Treatment, which varies according to addictive substance, should be tailored to each individual. Chances of success increase if all of those involved-doctor, patient and family members-recognize that addiction is an illness with complicated physical, psychological and social components and not simply a bad habit or a sign of weakness. They should also understand that most addictions require a multi-faceted approach to treatment.

Nicotine

This powerful stimulant is addictive substance in tobacco. Within seconds of being inhaled, nicotine reaches brain, which signals adrenal glands to pump out adrenaline and other stress hormones. People think that a cigarette is relaxing; in reality it creates a heightened state of tension. When effect wears off, the smoker experiences jitteriness and other withdrawal symptoms, which are quelled by another cigarette.

When used properly, nicotine based drugs make quitting easier by relieving withdrawal symptoms, which in addition to jitteriness may include headache, muscle aches, nausea, irritability and fatigue. They come in two forms - a gum that is chewed very slowly and a medicated skin patch. Nicotine from these sources is absorbed into the bloodstream, satisfying body's craving for it and thus preventing withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine gum and patches must be used exactly as directed, including NOT smoking to avoid over-dosage. After a few weeks, person should gradually be weaned off the drug.

To day, the only non-nicotine drug prescribed to aid smoking cessation is Clonidine, a medication originally developed to treat high blood pressure. Some studies suggest that it minimizes nicotine withdrawal symptoms although it does not entirely blocks the desire to smoke More on this...

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