Smokers need support, treatment to quit addiction
17 Oct 2018, 04:07 ( 6 Months ago)
Smokers need effective support and treatment when they wish to kick their addiction, said a press release of University of Helsinki quoting Docent Tellervo Korhonen, who has studied smoking and nicotine addiction for more than twenty years as saying.
“Nicotine addiction is a chronic condition with fulfilling the criteria of a disease of its own. It should be viewed as any other chronic disease, with effective therapies made available,” said Korhonen.
Nicotine is a very addictive substance, comparable to heroin in that regard. Moreover, the predisposition to developing an addiction has a substantial genetic component: some nicotine users can get hooked already after a handful of goes, while others never develop a physiological addiction.
“Research indicates that approximately half of smokers are dependent on nicotine. Among alcohol users, the corresponding share is only about 10%. Yet the discourse on addictive disorders usually revolves around other intoxicants, such as alcohol, whereas smoking is forgotten,” Professor Jaakko Kaprio said.
Smoking is known to cause dozens of diseases, among them multiple cancers, respiratory diseases and vascular diseases. Some seven million individuals die every year from smoking-related diseases. On average, smokers die ten years younger than non-smokers.
“There is indisputable evidence on the causality between smoking and many diseases. The evidence could not really be any stronger,” Kaprio said.
Recent studies have shown that nicotine also affects the prefrontal region of the brain, which has an important role in the regulation of emotions and behaviour. However, the precise sites of action in the region for nicotine are not yet known.
The prevalence of smoking in Finland has been declining already for some time. In 2017, only about 13% of Finns of at least 15 years of age were smoking daily according to population surveys.
According to Kaprio and Korhonen, this does not mean that the problem has been solved and the battle won.
Electronic cigarettes have been marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking, as well as a tool for weaning oneself from smoking. However, the health effects of e-cigarettes are still poorly known, and the situation is further complicated by the fact that they can contain a wide variety of fluids and substance compounds. The use of electronic cigarettes is commonly called vaping.
Nicotine-free products are available, but it’s very easy to inhale nicotine from an e-cigarette as well.
“At the moment, it looks like e-cigarettes are not very effective in helping to quit smoking altogether. Instead, they are used to a certain extent as a ‘replacement therapy’, or there is dual use of tobacco and vaping,” Kaprio explained.