Tobacco is smoked in cigars, cigarillos (small rolled cigars), pipes, hookahs, and the most common way, in cigarettes. Smoking has been a way to manage one’s mood, socialize, and combat stress since at least around 6,000 years ago.

Unbelievably, smoking tobacco in the form of regular cigarettes has a lower number of harmful substances and levels of nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar, than when tobacco is smoked in bidis (hand rolled cigarettes from India and Southeast Asia), hookahs (a glass pipe with a hose and water bowl), and cigar smoking. Either way, smoking tobacco in any form is a dangerous game that some choose to initiate. But, once the smoking of tobacco is started, it is generally not a choice. As nicotine addiction takes over, smoking is no longer optional, but becomes a necessity. Nicotine is now in-charge!

Nicotine is the primary addictive ingredient in tobacco. This is the drug addiction that is associated with smoking cigarettes and other forms of tobacco. But, many also become psychologically dependent on smoking tobacco, to relax, sooth oral fixations, and to reduce other fidgety behaviors. Unfortunately, since smoking cigarettes is both chemically and psychologically addictive, it is a difficult disease state to overcome.

There are a few reasons that most who are addicted to nicotine and wish to stop smoking cigarettes, which include the immediate and residual odor of tobacco smoke, the social unacceptability, cost factors, the increased number of no smoking areas and difficulty of being able to smoke (even in one’s own home, depending on the community), and for sure the health problems associated with smoking cigarettes.

The known health risks of smoking tobacco, and specifically cigarettes, are:


COPD, cancer, decreased function and oxygenation of the blood, decreased ability to exercise, shortness of breath, coughing, chronic bronchitis, sinusitis, typical colds, and asthma exacerbations

Immune system

Decreased immune response, in general, and increased susceptibility to all kinds of infections


Hardened arteries, including the arteries to the heart, leading to strokes, aneurysms, heart attacks and other vascular problems


Arrhythmias, heart attacks, decreased cardiac performance, coronary artery disease, ischemic cardiac disease, valvular disease (aortic and mitral), heart failure, and angina


Receding gums, dental problems and tooth loss, yellowing of teeth, cavities, tongue, mouth and esophageal cancer, fowl smelling breath, and laryngeal cancer


Rapid aging skin with severe and unsightly wrinkling, especially around the mouth and eyes


Esophageal, colorectal, pancreatic, gastric, liver cancer and increased gastric acidity leading to increased GERD and gastric ulcerations, leading to abnormal bleeding, anemia, and cardiac disease

Genitourinary Tract

Bladder, kidney, and ureter cancer


Chronic red, itchy eyes, dry eyes, chronic eye irritation, macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, retinopathy, and blindness


Low birth weight, stillbirth, premature delivery, SIDS, ectopic pregnancy, cleft palate


Reduced sperm count


Increased risk of type 2 diabetes


Rheumatoid arthritis

Despite this long “laundry” list of serious health problems, the threat of financial ruin (some choose to smoke, rather than to pay their car payment, rent, or other bills), and being labelled as a socially subversive, many continue to smoke one cigarette after another, spending money and risking their lives. Obviously, to place oneself and others at this level of risk means that there is a severe addiction at play.

Several other addictions are much more likely to occur in smoking, including alcohol, cocaine, opiates, and other stimulants such as methamphetamine. Most who are alcoholics also smoke cigarettes. When one enters residential drug rehab, or even inpatient drug detox to combat alcoholism, crack cocaine addiction, or an Oxycontin addiction, it is a perfect time to also free oneself from the emotional, physical, and mental pain of smoking cigarettes. These addictions can all be medically and therapeutically managed at the same time, and so can the mental health problems that are so inextricably intertwined with nicotine addiction.



The good news is that there is help available for those who wish to stop destroying their lives and the lives of others by quitting smoking. It is probably easier to throw in the towel and quit now, rather than to continue to squabble with your loved ones and friends about the merits of quitting smoking. Inpatient drug rehab and residential treatment centers have can be effective in the treatment of this disease, especially for those with medical problems, mental health disorders, other drug addictions, and alcoholism. In these institutions, one will not have access to smoking materials, will be treated medically, for all medical and mental health conditions, for nicotine withdrawal, and will learn how to cope with life’s difficulties without inhaling nicotine for mood regulation.


Believe it or not, the depression, anxiety, stress and relationship issues that one feels the desire to smoke in order to manage can be managed in other, healthier ways. For example, meditation, REBT (rational emotive behavioral therapy), breathing exercises, journaling, relying on peers, progressive muscle relaxation, and other coping skills are ways that are more effective in coping with life than smoking. After treatment, or participating in therapy, medical treatment, and/or self-help groups, former smokers are able to use healthy coping skills to manage routine day-to-day issues without lighting up and depending on nicotine.


If you are seeking freedom from nicotine addiction and the bondage created by smoking, the Addiction Specialists at NAI are here to help. Call us now at 844-889-8140.