Tobacco Dependency

Medical professionals today recognize that nicotine can be as addictive as some of the “harder” drugs. That’s why, for many who have failed to quit smoking on their own, a new method is needed for nicotine addiction treatment. San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento and other Bay Area citizens can benefit from the comprehensive approach offered at Gracer Medical Group.

The U.S. Department of Health calls tobacco, “the single greatest cause of disease and premature death in America today,” with over 430,000 deaths each year. Nearly 25% of adult Americans—46 million people—are addicted to tobacco products. Every day, 3000 children and adolescents take up the habit. More than 70% of smokers want to stop, but fewer than 10% succeed.

If you’re one of the many who have tried to stop smoking without success, take heart. For residents of the Sacramento, Oakland and San Jose areas, addiction treatment is nearby at Gracer Medical Group. We can help you free yourself from tobacco dependency for good. Call us at 925.277.1100 or contact us via email.

How Tobacco Causes Addiction

Nicotine and other addictive drugs like alcohol, opiates and stimulants work by raising the dopamine level in the brain. Effects of these drugs are additive and when they are stopped withdrawal symptoms are similar. Nicotine does this by stimulating the acetylcholine receptors. It is no coincidence that twelve-step meetings for drugs and even gambling are crowded with of smokers.

The way most people get “hooked” on tobacco is simple: almost all teens try smoking to be “cool.” Roughly 30% have a genetic tendency to become addicted and simply cannot stop. Others do not experience tobacco’s potent relaxing, euphoric and antidepressant effects and the brain alteration nicotine can cause, so they have no problem stopping. The way to beat smoking is to never start.

Tobacco Addiction Treatment Options

If you’re ready to stop using tobacco, there are a number of options to consider. Most are effective for some people. They include counseling and education with support groups, nicotine replacement (patches, lozenges and gum) and the antidepressant buproprion (Wellbutrin, Zyban). The overall success of these methods is at most 30% after one year. The success rate for people who are not in an intensive program is much lower. Those who choose nicotine replacement face the fact that they are still are addicted to nicotine; many cannot stop using the replacement treatment (gum, most often) without withdrawal.

More recently, Pfizer has marketed Chantix (varenicline), a drug that occupies the nicotine receptors in the brain and therefore blocks the effects of smoking. Although the initial quit rates are as high as 44% at 6 weeks, and for many the desire to smoke is cut dramatically, the quit rates at a year are only a little over 20%. Many people have nausea, insomnia and odd dreams, making this a difficult medication to use. And because Chantix works by stimulating the acetylcholine receptors, they do not get a chance to normalize. When the medication is stopped the former smoker still may have a let down from decreased dopamine in the brain.

Comprehensive Addiction Treatment

At Gracer Medical Group we use medications that block the effects of nicotine withdrawal without stimulating the receptors. This allows the receptors to return to their normal pre-smoking state.

This does not mean that taking medication is the sole answer. At Gracer Medical Group we have developed a comprehensive program to deal with all aspects of tobacco addiction: the psychosocial, nutritional and most importantly, the brain disease. We call this the CutOutSmoking program. Learn more at www.cutoutsmoking.com.

We see patients for addiction treatment from Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento and all over the San Francisco Bay area in our San Ramon offices. In fact, our patients come from Sonoma to Monterey, and even from Central Valley cities like Bakersfield.

Give us a call at 925.277.1100 or send an email to to find out more. Gracer Medical Group on Norris Canyon Road in San Ramon serves many communities in Northern California including the nearby cities of Walnut Creek, Danville, Dublin and Pleasanton.