A Liberation Journey From Nicotine Dependence

A Liberation Journey From Nicotine Dependence | IKRAM

Liberation from nicotine dependence (ND) is not just a distant dream, but an attainable reality. Millions of people worldwide suffer from ND, which presents both physical and psychological challenges.

ND is characterised by a compulsive desire to use nicotine, even though it is known to be harmful to your health. 

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance found in tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco, as well as electronic cigarettes or vaping devices.

These products also contain thousands of chemical compounds, some of which are carcinogens and are responsible for nearly one-third of all cancer deaths.

With determination, support, and appropriate strategies, you can embark on a journey towards liberation from this harmful habit. There are a variety of effective treatments available, including medications and behaviour counselling.

First and foremost, understand the enemy. Nicotine addiction is a formidable foe, wreaking havoc on the brain’s reward system and instilling intense cravings. Recognising nicotine’s addictive nature is the first step towards liberation. 

Nicotine enters the brain quickly after inhalation and binds to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. This causes the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward.

The brain adapts to the presence of nicotine after repeated use, and smokers or vapers must use more and more of it to achieve the same effect. Even a single puff from a cigarette is sufficient to potentially create a smoking addiction for life and this is nicotine dependence.

Nicotine does not only increase your risk of getting many types of cancers, but it also increases your blood viscosity that can lead to heart attack, stroke and lung diseases. Worse, it can cause mental health diseases such as depression and reduce your ability to focus and remember things. 

When you stop using nicotine, your body will go through a withdrawal period. Cravings for nicotine, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating are some withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be bothersome, but they are usually only temporary.

Liberation from ND is not an easy journey. Along the way, there will be ups and downs. However, if you are determined to quit and have the right support, you can succeed.

Remember, your ultimate goal is to be totally free from nicotine, not just switch from tobacco products to e-cigarettes or other smoking products. By being free from ND, you will soon enjoy the gifts of life. 

You can breathe better, perform daily tasks better such as climb the stairs faster, at the same time reducing all your risks of getting the diseases. By being ND free, you are at your liberty to spend wisely in other aspects of lives that are more important than any tobacco products.

These are some practical tips for liberty from ND:

Setting a Quit Date: Setting a quit date provides a definite goal. Prepare for this day by learning about triggers and devising strategies to deal with them. A clear deadline can boost motivation and determination. As a quit date, use a specific occasion or celebration such as the new year, birthday, anniversary or Ramadan month.

Seeking Help: Help from friends, family or support groups can be invaluable. Knowing you are not alone on this journey gives you hope and motivation. Consider participating in cessation programmes or seeking professional advice from a counsellor.

Create a support group: Your circle of friends or family can be a method of support group in assisting your journey to quit. They can act as reminders when you have your craving to distract you from getting a puff. 

Exploring Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT): NRT products, such as patches or gums, can help with withdrawal symptoms. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best option for you. NRT serves as a bridge, allowing you to gradually reduce your nicotine intake.

Behavioural Therapies and Healthy Lifestyle Changes: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other behavioural therapies can address the psychological aspects of addiction by identifying triggers and developing coping strategies. 

Adopting a healthier lifestyle that includes regular exercise and balanced nutrition benefits both your body and mind. You may want to find a suitable doctor to assist you with this technique.

Managing Stress and Avoiding Triggers: Identify triggers and create a smoke-free environment. You will need to remove all tobacco products from your sight. Stress frequently causes cravings, so try relaxation techniques like meditation, prayer or yoga.

Stress management effectively reduces the desire to smoke. Sports activities can also help release your cravings and stress. 

Handling Relapses and Celebrating Victories: Relapses do happen, but they do not indicate failure. Learn from their mistakes, identify triggers and revise your strategy. Celebrate small victories to stay motivated and reinforce your commitment to a smoke-free lifestyle.

Long-Term Support and a Positive Attitude: Long-term support is essential. Even after you have quit smoking, keep in touch with support groups or counsellors or even your family who have been your cheerleaders in your journey to quit. Develop a positive attitude, believe in your ability to quit and envision the benefits of a smoke-free life.

Stay informed about the harmful effects of smoking and the benefits of quitting with educational resources and professional assistance. Consider seeking professional assistance, such as medication prescribed by a healthcare provider to help you manage cravings.

To summarise, the road to freedom or liberation from nicotine addiction is difficult but extremely rewarding. You can break free and reclaim your life with the right support, determination and strategies.

Remember that every step you take towards quitting is a step closer to a healthier, happier and livelier smoke and vape-free future.

Dr Mohd Afiq Mohd Nor
Emergency Physician
Nicotine Addiction Research and Collaborating Group (NARCC), UM

Assoc Prof Dr Nur Amani Ahmad Tajuddin
Family Medicine Specialist
Deputy Coordinator 
Nicotine Addiction Research and Collaborating Group (NARCC), UM

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