Nicotine addiction ("nicotine
dependence" in the currently accepted diagnostic schemes) is a substance
addiction identical in structure, process and psychological defense mechanisms
to all other substance addictions, including alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and
sedative-hypnotics such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Only the status of
nicotine as a more or less socially acceptable drug prevented this fact from
being more widely recognized and acknowledged until very recently.
The same mental mechanisms of
defense that guard and sustain all other addictions operate
to prevent nicotine addicts from breaking their bondage to tobacco
products. Denial, rationalization, minimization, evasion, lying,
secrecy, blaming and other forms of dishonesty perform their usual
and customary functions of defense in nicotine addiction, just as
they do in all addictive disorders.
There are many ways to stop smoking,
ranging from just quitting to the use of special programs,
nicotine replacement therapy, medication(Zyban), hypnosis and even acupuncture.
All have some degree of success. None is as effective as we would like. Nicotine
dependence is a serious and frequently fatal chronic addictive disorder that is
often as difficult, if not more difficult to overcome than the more
dramatic addictions such as alcohol, heroin and cocaine. According to recent
statistics, more alcoholics, whether drinking or sober, actually die of the
medical consequences of smoking than die directly from the complications of
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