Much like treatment for opiate dependence, a gradual reduction of the addictive drug nicotine helps lessen the severity of the withdrawal symptoms that can often make smoking cessation very difficult. In other words, the strategy of simply going ”cold turkey” often does not result in a successful outcome. The research has shown that a gradual reduction in smoking, often coupled with the intermittent use of medications that can regulate nicotine such as transdermal patches, tends to have better and more long-lasting effects.
Other strategies that have been shown to be useful in an individual’s armamentarium of treatment strategies include attempting to stop smoking within the context of a social support group. Research has demonstrated that when you confide your goals to others who have your best interests at heart, this can be a powerful social reinforcer to maintain attempts at smoking cessation. The support of other individuals can often also help assuage feelings of stress that one has in their life. Certainly, any attempts one can make at stress reduction in terms of their daily life challenges, the fewer external cues there will be to return to smoking which, for many people, has been used as the primary means for stress reduction in their life.
From a behavioral perspective, it is important for individuals who want to stop smoking to remove from their environment the physical cues that are associated with the behavioral habits of smoking. This strategy is similarly employed with other types of illicit substance abuse where the act of taking the drug carries significant import. Cigarette butts, packets of tobacco products, ashtrays and even behavioral habits such as alcohol or coffee consumption that often accompany tobacco use need to be removed or significantly changed in the individual’s life to minimize the effects of the operant conditioning history.
Like with treatment for other types of serious drug addiction, it is important to realize that relapse is a real possibility and that an individual should be rewarded and reinforced for attempts at cessation. Additionally, one should not be overly self-critical or invalidate the process of recovery when instances of backsliding or relapse occur. The research is shown that, in fact, quitting tobacco use is a process that often takes, on average, seven or eight failed attempts before finding a long-lasting successful outcome.
Another important treatment modality is that of physical exercise. It primarily can serve as a substitution for many of the stress-relieving properties that tobacco use once served. In addition, the conditioning of an individual’s cardiovascular system can help rehabilitate bodily functions that have long suffered under the excessive burden that tobacco use, typically smoking, has brought on these organ systems. As with the other forms of drug treatment, the consultation of a physician during the process can aid in the chances of success. Physicians have as their disposal a variety of medications, including some in the antidepressant class, which have shown good efficacy in helping to curb cravings and the resultant irritability associated with withdrawal. However, they are certainly not without some risk factors and frequent monitoring by primary care professional is important.
What can one say about the drug caffeine? To state that it may be one of the most pervasively and ubiquitously consumed drugs throughout the world might just be an understatement. Next to the naturally occurring and arguably nutritious substance of sugar, it may be one of the substances that is most readily infused into the diet of most Americans in modern society. Put another way, caffeine use is one of the most popular forms of drug use in the world. One only needs to look at the recent proliferation of coffeehouses and coffee culture, and the subsequent indoctrination of younger generations of individuals to soft drinks and coffee use, to see a pattern of life-long use. In addition, a whole new line of product development and targeted marketing has occurred over the last 15 years: that of the ”energy” drinks and individual doses of caffeine in a one-shot delivery system. In other words, society has moved from caffeine being a desired byproduct of a consumable beverage to being its own means to a desired end.
Here’s a quick and humorous four-minute overview from SciShow.com on the world’s most popular psychoactive drug: