What is a Nicotine Addiction?
Nicotine is an addictive substance originating from tobacco plants. Smoking nicotine products causes the release of dopamine in the reward centres of the brain, reinforcing smoking behaviour and making it difficult to stop. When the effect fades, smokers may feel tired or on edge. Over time, the brain adapts to nicotine and builds tolerance.
Long-term smokers eventually find that they need to smoke increasing amounts of nicotine in order to achieve the same high that they once experienced. This further contributes to the cycle of nicotine smoking addiction.
Types of Nicotine Products
Modern nicotine products include:
- Tobacco pipes
- Vapes (E-Cigarettes)
- Nicotine gum
- Nicotine patches
In recent years, vapes (also known as electronic or e-cigarettes) have gained popularity as an alternative source of nicotine. Vaping works by using an electrified coil to vaporise a liquid mix of nicotine and flavouring into a gaseous state that is then inhaled like traditional cigarette smoke. These liquids known as e-liquids or vape juice are appealing amongst youth as they can have a variety of flavours modelled after food and do not leave the same stale smell as burnt tobacco.
Vaping is also often marketed as a healthier alternative to cigarette smoking, potentially reducing the risk of nicotine addiction. However, not enough information is known about the long-term effects of vaping. While the flavouring compounds found in e-liquids have been approved for oral consumption, they may react very differently when inhaled into the lungs. Vaping is not currently legal in Singapore.
Causes and Effects of Nicotine and Cigarette Smoking Addiction
Social difficulties such as loneliness or isolation can significantly contribute to nicotine addiction. Individuals experiencing these social difficulties may turn to smoking as a form of self-soothing or to fill a void caused by a lack of social interaction or support. The temporary relief and sense of calm provided by nicotine can become a crutch, resulting in a cycle of dependency, often signalling when cigarette addiction treatment is needed.
Exposure to environments where smoking is prevalent can significantly contribute to the development of nicotine addiction. Individuals are more likely to initiate and continue smoking when they are exposed to other smokers, such as at parties or bars. The combination of alcohol and nicotine, often encountered in these settings, can further the addictive cycle. Even “social smokers,” who may not otherwise smoke on their own, can develop an addiction due to repeated exposure during social interactions or the social pressure to fit in.
People with mental health conditions, particularly mood disorders like depression or anxiety, may be more prone to nicotine addiction. The nicotine in cigarettes can temporarily elevate mood and alleviate symptoms, making smoking an attractive, albeit harmful, coping mechanism. This can establish a dangerous cycle of dependency as the individual leans on nicotine for symptom management, necessitating timely cigarette addiction treatment in Singapore.
Genetic factors can significantly influence the likelihood of developing a nicotine addiction. Certain genetic variations can make individuals more susceptible to the addictive properties of nicotine. For those who find it increasingly challenging to quit due to these genetic factors, it’s a sign they might need help or smoking addiction treatment to stop.
The effects of nicotine and cigarette smoking addiction can be profound and far-reaching. Being a highly addictive substance found in tobacco products, it exerts a powerful grip on individuals, leading to the development of smoking addiction. Sustained nicotine use can have detrimental effects on every organ in the body. These effects can include:
- Impaired lung function and worsening of asthma. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths and has also been linked to cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus and kidney amongst others.
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate while smoking. This increases the risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.
- Reduced fertility in women and increased impotence in men. Smoking while pregnant is also extremely harmful to the baby and has been linked to an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Deteriorating oral hygiene. It can lead to stained teeth, increased risk of inflammation and infection of the gums.
When to Seek Help?
A research paper published by the New England Journal of Medicine found that individuals who quit smoking before the age of 40 reduced the risk of death associated with continued smoking by about 90%. However, it is never too early or too late to quit. If you find yourself exhibiting signs of smoking addiction, you can seek professional help from treatment centres like Visions by Promises.
At Visions, our team offers smoking addiction treatment, as well as specific programmes for alcohol addiction therapy, drug addiction treatment and more in Singapore, addressing the spectrum of dependencies that individuals may struggle with.
Signs and Symptoms of Excessive Nicotine Use
- Feeling restless, irritable, moody, or anxious when attempting to cut down or stop smoking
- Having difficulty breathing
- Elevated blood pressure
- Sudden changes in heart rate
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Oral infections
How Does Visions Make an Assessment for Smoking Addiction?
At Visions by Promises, we utilise a comprehensive treatment approach to assess the depth of one’s smoking addiction. This includes:
The biological assessment at Visions by Promises employs a range of diagnostic tools to delve into the physical repercussions of smoking addiction. This includes medical examinations and laboratory tests to identify any smoking-related health issues like lung conditions or heart disease.
Our assessment of psychological factors in treating cigarette smoking addiction uses various psychological evaluation tools to identify any underlying mental health conditions contributing to the addiction. This includes the use of standardised questionnaires or scales such as the Beck Depression Inventory for depression, the Generalised Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale for anxiety, or other relevant psychiatric screening tools. These assessments help determine the need for therapeutic and psychiatric interventions, forming a crucial part of the individualised treatment plan.
Our social assessment for smoking addiction treatment utilises various tools such as structured interviews and social history questionnaires to examine the individual’s social environment and its role in their addiction. This could involve exploring the influence of peer groups, family dynamics, and other social factors. Tools like the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) may be used to gain insights into the individual’s social interactions and influences, which can contribute to addiction.
The spiritual assessment is an integral part of the smoking addiction treatment process. It explores the individual’s spiritual beliefs and values and how they can be harnessed in their recovery from cigarette smoking addiction.
Aftercare Services at Visions By Promises
Here, we’re dedicated to providing continuous support, ensuring a seamless transition and sustained recovery even after initial treatment.
Continuing Care Group
Upon completion of the smoking addiction treatment at Visions by Promises, individuals are welcomed into the Continuing Care Group. This aftercare programme is designed to support individuals in their post-treatment journey. Meeting on a weekly basis, the group provides a supportive network for discussing and navigating the challenges that may arise during this new phase of recovery. The group allows individuals to maintain connections with their peers and the Visions team, fostering a sense of community.
Visions by Promises offers a variety of medical services specifically designed to support the recovery journey of smoking addiction. Acknowledging that individuals might have co-existing mental health conditions along with their addiction, the services extend to psychiatric care and, if necessary, medication to manage withdrawal symptoms.
Teleconsultation or Online Support
Teleconsultation or online support is another facet of the aftercare treatment provided by Visions by Promises for smoking addiction. This facilitates ongoing communication with the care team, enabling individuals to seek advice and receive remote assistance.
Treatment Process at Visions for those with Nicotine and Cigarette Addiction
Due to the highly addictive nature of nicotine, it can be very difficult to quit alone. Long-term smokers may have tried to quit multiple times with little to no success. Cigarette and smoking addiction treatment can provide individuals with effective tips and strategies that increase the chances of them successfully quitting smoking. Smoking cessation treatment commonly involves a coordinated team of specialists – a medical practitioner, psychologist, and psychiatrist.
1. Reach Out to Visions by Promises
The journey to overcoming nicotine addiction begins by reaching out for professional help. This step involves acknowledging the need for treatment, making the initial contact with the Visions team. At this stage, an online addictions test is available for you at our website to assess the risk or severity of your smoking addiction. To schedule an assessment, you can make an appointment online or contact us at +65 6397 7304 to discuss the next steps.
2. Attend The Intake Assessment (Usually a 1 hour session)
The first visit with the clinical psychologist usually entails a detailed assessment of the presenting issues and relevant background history. For children and adolescents, parents will also be interviewed. At the end of the first session, psychoeducation will be provided, and nicotine and cigarette addiction treatment options and plans will be discussed. Depending on the assessment made by your clinician, recommendations on the need to involve other specialists and whether medication is appropriate will be made.
3. Discuss Treatment Plans
After the intake assessment, a discussion about treatment options and plans takes place. Recommendations may be made regarding the involvement of other specialists or the use of medication, ensuring a smoking addiction treatment plan tailored to your unique needs.
4. Begin Behavioural Therapy & Medical Treatment
Nicotine is often used for stress relief or out of habit, especially in social situations. Behavioural therapy for nicotine cessation typically focuses on developing alternative coping mechanisms to deal with common triggers of stress. Over time, these lifestyle changes help to replace the instinct to reach for a cigarette with something much healthier.
The clinician may also roleplay social situations where one feels pressured to smoke. These could include drinking at a bar or hanging out with friends who smoke. Individuals can practise how to say ‘no’ and diffuse the situation without giving in.
A psychiatrist may also prescribe medical interventions such as Varenicline to help with nicotine cessation. In cases where individuals are unable to quit using nicotine completely, alternative sources such as nicotine patches may be recommended to minimise harm.
5. Aftercare Programmes
Upon successful completion of the nicotine and cigarette addiction treatment programme, Visions by Promises offers aftercare services for individuals overcoming smoking addiction in Singapore. Aftercare is a crucial component to ensure that you don’t relapse. This can involve follow-up appointments, participation in support groups, or continued therapy, all aimed at maintaining the progress made during the treatment and supporting your smoke-free life.
Meet Our Nicotine and Smoking Addiction Specialists
Dr. Sean David Vanniasingham
- Obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery from the National University of Singapore and a postgraduate degree from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
- Specialises in substance, and behavioural addictions, alcohol treatment and rehabilitation, adjustment difficulties and stress-related conditions, depression and anxiety, and more.
- Has a significant history of working with patients struggling with severe smoking addictions at the National Addictions Management Service (NAMS).
- Has held various leadership, mentoring, and teaching roles, including being a clinical tutor for NUS and NTU medical faculties.
- Is a fellow of the Academy of Medicine Singapore and an executive committee member of the Singapore Psychiatric Association.
Dr Andrew da Roza
- Holds a Master in Counselling from Monash University(Australia), and a Master of Science in Addictions from King’s College London (UK), Virginia Commonwealth University (USA), University of Adelaide (Australia).
- Has a legal background with over 25 years of experience as a lawyer, holding a BA in Law and a Master’s in Law.
- Certified as a substance abuse therapist and counsellor.
- Member of the Australian Counselling Association, Singapore Association for Counselling, and ACA College of Alcohol and other Drugs.
- Has a strong affiliation with the recovery group community and is a proponent of the 12 Steps recovery approach.
Dr Munidasa Winslow
- Began his career at the Institute of Mental Health in 1988, working in general psychiatry and addiction medicine.
- Specialist in addiction and impulse control disorders, including alcohol and cigarette smoking, substance dependence, gambling, gaming, and sexual compulsivity.
- He played a key role in establishing the National Addictions Management Service (NAMS) and was the chief of the Addiction Medicine Department at IMH before founding his private practice, Promises Pte Ltd.
- Teaches various counselling courses, drawing upon his extensive experience to help therapists develop and refine their skills.
Frequently Asked Questions About Smoking Addiction Treatment in Singapore
Nicotine is the ingredient in tobacco that leads to addiction in smokers. To quit smoking tobacco, you can replace smoking with nicotine patches, lozenges, gum, inhalers, or nasal sprays. These methods are medically approved ways that help to reduce overall nicotine intake and assist in quelling nicotine cravings when attempting to quit.
There are several effective strategies that can help you successfully get rid of your smoking addiction. Start by reflecting on your smoking habit to find out what triggers you to smoke, such as stress or feeling low. Avoid situations where you have a greater likelihood of smoking. Manage cigarette cravings by reminding yourself why you quit, or distracting when the urge arises.
Visions by Promises’ smoking addiction treatment supports individuals in their journey of quitting smoking and increases their chances of going smoke-free. Find out more about the addictions we treat.
On average, it takes around three months for people to overcome nicotine addiction. This is the duration during which individuals experience withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability and restlessness. While these may be unpleasant, they’re temporary. If one is able to overcome cravings for nicotine and get through the withdrawal symptoms, it is likely that they can get rid of their cigarette addiction.
With support and counselling, individuals decrease their chances of relapse and can successfully kick their smoking habit. Make an appointment with Visions by Promises to receive cigarette and smoking addiction treatment in Singapore.
Are there any specific therapies or programmes offered by Visions by Promises to help with nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms?
Visions by Promises offers a comprehensive approach to manage nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms from cigarette smoking. This involves a blend of individual counselling and medical services. Clients receive personalised guidance from an addiction therapist, with sessions tailored to their recovery progress. These sessions encompass psycho-education, goal setting, and regular reviews.
What kind of support can family members expect from Visions by Promises during the treatment process?
Visions by Promises offers the Visions Family Programme, an eight-week initiative designed to support families affected by their loved one’s nicotine and cigarette smoking addiction. This programme provides families with a deeper understanding of addiction, its progression, and the dynamics it creates within the family. It also assists families in formulating recovery plans for high-risk situations, ensuring that as the individual recovers, the family system adapts and evolves alongside them, minimising the risk of relapse.