Smoking addiction, otherwise known as nicotine dependence, has been plaguing humanity throughout history. The detrimental effects of this form of addiction are well-documented, but the biological, genetic, and social draws of this activity continue to take a toll on individuals across the globe. That said, our current battle against COVID-19 has provided many nicotine addicts with the incentive they needed to finally kick the habit – though it remains an uphill battle.
Smoking and more specifically nicotine addiction are defined as the compulsion to inhale the stimulant nicotine, which is commonly found in cigars and cigarettes. Nicotine produces a pleasurable fleeting feeling that causes the desire to smoke more frequently, thus creating a cycle of addiction.
Nicotine comes in different forms: it can be chewed raw, pre rolled as cigars or cigarettes, loose tobacco for rolling cigarettes or smoking with a pipe, smoked through a hookah or water pipe, or with a vaporizer, or e-cigarette which deliver nicotine through an atomized liquid, or traditional tobacco leaves.
About 45 million Americans are considered smokers. A third of all individuals who try smoking tobacco, even once, become daily smokers. Out of the smokers who try to quit, less than 5% are successful. Tobacco causes roughly 8 million deaths a year, from cancer, cardiovascular illness, lung disorders, diabetes and more.
As the active ingredient in tobacco, nicotine, binds with nicotinic cholinergic receptors in the brain. This causes the release of acetylcholine, a mood-elevating neurotransmitter that causes a brief euphoric sensation. Following repeated use, one’s brain starts to seek out the rewarding experience created by nicotine binding, making them increase how often they use it.
In addition to the above-mentioned biological factors, a genetic tendency toward addiction also exists, making some individuals more prone to nicotine dependence than others.
A third significant factor is the social aspect: many smokers are introduced to smoking within a social setting and continue smoking until they develop an addiction due to social pressures and a desire to fit in.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has highlighted a clear connection between smoking and developing serious symptoms due to COVID-19 or the coronavirus. This is due to the disease primarily attacking the patient’s lungs, with severe cases causing serious respiratory difficulties and in the most extreme cases, mortality.
Fortunately, many smokers have been taking all this to heart, quitting smoking at record-breaking numbers. In the UK, for instance, more than 300,000 smoking addicts have reportedly kicked the habit due to concerns over COVID-19. In addition, over 2.4 million smokers have reportedly cut down on their smoking over corona-related concerns. Overall, smoking cessation numbers are reported to be the highest they have been in a decade, with many ex-smokers attributing their decision to quit to the current pandemic.
Deep TMS has been recognized as a safe and effective treatment for smoking cessation assistance, being FDA-cleared in August 2020. Deep TMS works by projecting electromagnetic pulses that help regulate the neural activity of brain structures associated with smoking addiction. This non-invasive treatment does not cause any significant or long-lasting side effects, can be combined with any other form of treatment, and can be integrated into patients’ daily routine.
Several other safe and efficient smoking cessation treatments are available today. Among them are: