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Smoking Cessation

Man Holding Vape And Tobacco Cigarette Over Desk

Is vaping nicotine safe?

Vaping involves inhaling and exhaling aerosol produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device. The aerosol usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals.  While vaping is generally considered to be less harmful than traditional smoking, it is not without risks.  Here are some important considerations about vaping nicotine:

  • Nicotine addiction: Nicotine is a highly addicting chemical, regardless of the form it is used.  Vaping nicotine can lead to addiction just as easily as smoking cigarettes.  This addiction can be particularly concerning for young people, as their brains are still developing.
  • Health risks: The aerosol produced by e-cigarettes contains potentially harmful substances such as heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and ultrafine particles. Long-term effects are still being studied, but some research suggests that vaping may have negative impacts on lung health and cardiovascular health.
  • Popularity among youth: Vaping has gained popularity among young people, and this has raised concerns about nicotine addiction and potential long-term health effects. Some studies have found that young people who vape are more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes.
  • Regulation and product quality: The lack of standardized regulation and quality control for e-cigarette products is a concern. In some cases, poorly manufactured or counterfeit vaping products have been found to contain additional harmful substances or have malfunctioned, leading to injuries.

Ultimately, while vaping may have some potential as a harm reduction tool for current smokers, it is not completely safe.

How does nicotine impact mental health?

It is important to differentiate between short-term and long-term effects of nicotine.  While the short-term effects of nicotine may seem positive, long-term use leads to changes in the brain which are overwhelmingly negative.  Our brains are designed to try to maintain a state of homeostasis and balance.  Chronic use of addictive substances, such as nicotine, push our brain out of homeostasis.  Over time, our brains adapt by taking a position opposite the effect of the drug so that the drug will not push the brain too far from balance.   Eventually, with chronic use, substance use has the exact opposite effect on the brain than the intended effect of using the drug; subsequently, increased use of the drug is needed to maintain homeostasis.  Negative effects on mental health include the following:

  • Anxiety and stress: While nicotine can provide temporary relief from stress and anxiety, there is evidence to suggest that chronic nicotine use may actually increase anxiety levels over time.  Anxiety may be experienced in the setting of nicotine withdrawal or in anticipation of not having nicotine available. Quitting nicotine may initially increase anxiety levels before they eventually decrease.
  • Depression: While the short-term effects of nicotine may be euphoria and improved mood, with long-term use, one’s baseline level of sadness and depression can lower. 
  • Addiction: Addiction has a huge impact on mental health on several levels.  First, tolerance is important component of addiction which means that higher and higher doses are needed to achieve the same results. Second, there is often significant time and emotional energy devoted to the substance.  This may take the form of time needed to acquire the drug, time thinking about the drug, time spent hiding the drug or the effects of the drug (such as the smell), and of course the high financial cost of the drug. All of these can impact all areas of mental health. 

What is included in the package for smoking cessation?

We offer a complete program to assist you in achieving your goal to stop smoking.  This includes a thorough assessment of all the factors that make stopping difficult.  We provide extensive education on the impact that smoking has not only on the lungs and body, but on the mind and brain as well.  Using all of this, we work to ensure that you have all the best tools at your disposal as we go through the treatments.  We strive to provide a truly comprehensive program designed to optimize the likelihood of success.  Our program includes the following:

  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS):  TMS has recently been FDA approved to assist in the smoking cessation.  TMS is a non-invasive technique which uses magnetic coils to stimulate areas of the brain.  By targeting pathways involved in addiction, we are able to break the strong link between smoking triggers and use making it easier to quit.   
  • Therapy and Counseling: Understanding triggers and finding alternative approaches to managing stress can be a critical component of smoking cessation.
  • Neurofeedback and biofeedback:  These tools can help to teach calming and relaxation technique and can your brain to recover and reset during the treatment process.

Who is appropriate for the smoking cessation program?

Anyone who has struggled to stop smoking is an appropriate candidate for deep TMS.  Most typically, individuals will progressively escalate the interventions needed to stop.  So perhaps starting with a simple statement to oneself, “today I am going to stop” will be sufficient.  For others, a more extensive understanding of their triggers and learning tools for managing stress and anxiety might be sufficient additions to quit.  Others might do well with nicotine replacement such as gums or patches.  For many though, none of those interventions work.  That is typically where one would start to consider interventions such as deep TMS.  However, there no specific guideline and TMS can be tried at any point along the journey to a nicotine-free life.

What are the side effects of deep TMS? Because TMS is a localized treatment, there are no systemic side effects such as nausea, vomiting, GI upset, etc.  The side effects of deep TMS are mostly limited to local discomfort and headaches.  During your treatment, we are able to adjust the intensity so that these side effects are tolerable throughout.  Typically, over the counter medications such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen can also be helpful.  Overall, TMS is very well tolerated.