Smoking Cessation Strategies for Psychiatric Patients

Smoking Cessation Columbia, MD

The longer you smoke, the more impossible smoking cessation seems. This is due to the powerful hold that nicotine, a substance in tobacco, has on the brain. Trying to quit on your own may be dangerous for some due to the withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, we offer a variety of ways to help you kick the substance and habit for good.

Understanding nicotine withdrawal

Nicotine is known as an addictive. Its negative effects on the body are well-known, but they are largely ignored because of its power on the brain. Once this substance enters the bloodstream, which can be done through smoking, it targets and rewires the brain. Nicotine rapidly penetrates and releases the neurotransmitters, mainly dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is largely associated with feelings of pleasure and "reward signals." When released nonorganically, these neurotransmitters negatively affect how the body responds to pleasure or happiness while increasing its cravings for nicotine. Over time, one will become desensitized to small amounts of nicotine and increase their intake, which is when we often see some go through one or multiple packs in a day.

With this, the brain is officially rewired, and the withdrawal effects may be moderate to severe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports these seven common withdrawal symptoms when one tries to quit:

  • Depression or deep levels of sadness
  • Increased urges or cravings to smoke
  • Frequent bouts of irritability, anger, or general upset
  • Feeling restless
  • Difficulty staying focused
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Weight gain due to the urge to snack

Once the brain is rewired, it will take more than ridding the body of nicotine. One will need a full treatment plan to address the above symptoms and revert the brain to normal functioning.

Exploring smoking cessation strategies

All smoking cessation treatment plans will begin with a clinical evaluation. The psychiatrist, a doctor of medicine (MD), will likely want to review the patient's medical history and perform screenings and blood tests. They will also have an open conversation regarding how long the patient has smoked, the frequency and amount they smoke, intake of other substances, and previous cessation attempts. This will make it easier to craft a treatment plan with one or multiple of the following tactics:

Nicotine replacement therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy, or NRT, is exactly how it sounds. It uses other methods, with low doses of nicotine, to counter the cravings to wean the individual off of it slowly. This is mainly through gums, patches, lozenges, and inhalers. NRT will always be paired with one of the two options below.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is clinically proven to identify one's smoking triggers. These triggers vary per person but can include situations, people, memories, or activities. Once identified, the psychiatrist will help challenge the individual, mainly their brain, to develop alternative strategies to better cope with these stressors.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation

Though non-invasive, transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS is for those who see little results in CBT. Their cravings or withdrawal symptoms may be too strong, or their health may be at immediate risk. TMS involves using a magnetic coil to stimulate small electrical impulses in the brain's prefrontal cortex and insula regions. These regions control the decision-making, impulse, cravings, and reward center. The aim is to reverse nicotine's effects on these areas manually.

We can help you quit safely

Overcoming nicotine addiction is possible; more so, it is possible to achieve it safely. If you are interested in smoking cessation, contact our psychiatrist to receive a personalized treatment plan. We will help you rid your body of nicotine and address the lingering effects of the powerful substance on the brain.

Request an appointment here: or call Springs Health LLC at (410) 772-0774 for an appointment in our Columbia office.

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