|| DukeMedNews || Avoiding Cigarettes to Ease Stress

Suggested lead: Is your smoking a habit or an addiction? If you can’t stop, or you’re afraid to try, you can still get help. Tom Britt has more.

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Tobacco use has dropped dramatically in the United States in recent years, as research reveals more and more of the serious, and often deadly side effects of nicotine. Some former smokers say they simply threw their pack away and never looked back, but for others, quitting can be nearly impossible. Research has shown that for these smokers, stopping can be on the same level as breaking a heroin addiction. Dr. Eric Westman is the director of the Nicotine Research Program at Duke University Medical Center. He says many of the patients he sees have convinced themselves their nicotine addiction will not hurt them.

“For many people the addiction is the problem right now. These other effects on the brain, the heart and the lungs take many years to have their toll. So many people think they can get away with smoking and the nicotine effects.”

Dr. Westman says if you cannot stop for even a day, or if you’re afraid to try, there are several new drugs and treatments available that you might not be aware of. Contact your physician, local heart or lung association or health department for a list of stop-smoking programs near you. I’m Tom Britt.

Westman says there is a big difference between a habit and an addiction.

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“It is a habit, but it’s also an addiction. Many habits are easy to break. You can stop doing things for a day. For many people, smoking is so much of an addiction they can’t stop smoking for just one day. And that differentiates a habit from an addiction.”