Nicotine & Tobacco
What it is
Nicotine is a chemical made by several types of plants, including the tobacco plant. While not cancer-causing or excessively harmful on its own, nicotine is very addictive and exposes people to the extremely harmful effects of tobacco dependency.
How it’s used
Tobacco products are typically smoked in cigarettes, cigars, or pipes; smoked in loose form in hookahs (water pipe); chewed; sniffed as dry snuff; or held inside the cheek as wet snuff. In Canada, there’s been a steady decline in smoking rates over the past 50 years.
How it affects us
When inhaled, nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the brain within 20 seconds—which makes it very addictive. Nicotine may cause you to temporarily feel good or energized. It also causes the release of natural chemicals in your brain that may make you feel more alert and calm. Over time, your body builds a tolerance to some of the effects of nicotine, so you have to continue to smoke or vape to make the effects last. When you go without nicotine for more than a few hours, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Many people continue to smoke or vape to avoid feeling this way.
Anyone who uses tobacco or vapes is at risk of developing nicotine dependence. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 dangerous chemicals, many of which cause cancer. And the longer a person smokes (or is around smoke), the greater the chance of developing a smoking-related illness like heart attack, stroke, cancer, or respiratory disease. Children and youth are especially at risk for the harmful effects of nicotine, including addiction. Nicotine can affect memory and concentration and is known to alter teen brain development. Exposure to nicotine during the teenage years may cause reduced impulse control and cognitive and behavioural problems. There are health risks linked to other chemicals found in vaping products. People who try to stop smoking or vaping can experience intense feelings of withdrawal, like irritability and difficulties concentrating.
When to seek help
There’s no safe level of tobacco use, so if you’d like to make a change by deciding to quit smoking, there is help available. Attempts to quit work best when you’re highly motivated, and have the support of family, friends, a support group, or your doctor. Stop-smoking aids (the patch, gum, inhaler, lozenge and nasal spray) can lessen the cravings. Certain medications don’t contain nicotine but can help you quit—they’re available by prescription. After a few years, people who quit smoking can generally achieve the same level of risk of cancers and heart disease as people who have never smoked.
Mental Health 101
Knowledge is power. This series of free online tutorials is a starting point for learning about mental health. You can come away with a greater understanding of the mental health concern you are interested in knowing more about.
Eskasoni Mental Health
Eskasoni Mental Health Services (EMHS) provides a wide range of services to the Mi’kmaq people of Eskasoni, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The Tui'kn Residential School Survivor...
Caregivers Nova Scotia
Caregivers Nova Scotia provides free programs, services, information, and advocacy for family and friend caregivers. We are dedicated to providing recognition and practical assistance to friends and family giving care.
Kids Help Phone
Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7, national support service. We offer professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young...
211 is a free, confidential information and referral service that can connect you to thousands of programs and services offered by local community groups, nonprofits and government departments across Nova Scotia, 24/7.
Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services - Mental Health Programs and Services
Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) is responsible for administering Non-Public Property (NPP) on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff and for delivering...
Veterans Affairs Canada Assitance Service
Veterans Affairs provide targeted services and benefits to improve well-being including support and services related to your physical and mental health and wellness.The VAC...
Mental Health and Addictions Wellness Program
The Wellness Clinic is an ongoing, client-focused program that is based on what the client or group of clients want to work on that day. There is no waitlist or referral...
Health Psychology offers psychological interventions for those with chronic and acute health conditions. The main focus is on the patient's mental and emotional reaction to an illness or their recovery from an illness.
Mood Disorders Clinic
The mood disorders clinic provides consultations for individuals with severe mood disorders such as possible bipolar disorder. This is a specialized service that provides diagnosis and treatment of severe mood disorders.
Stop Smoking Services
Stop smoking, tobacco cessation and nicotine addiction services are available throughout Nova Scotia for individuals who want to cut back or stop their tobacco (cigarettes...
School Mental Health (SchoolsPlus)
The school mental health clinicians provide individual and group therapy, mental health and addictions education for school staff and consultation services. Clinicians are on...
Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic
The Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic provides mental health services to Veterans, eligible members of the Canadian Forces (CF), RCMP members and former members, who have...
Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line
The Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line provides crisis intervention for children, youth and adults experiencing a mental health crisis or mental distress.
First Nations Services
Mental Health clinicians work as part of the first nations health care team in several first nations communities. The Mental Health Clinician provides assessment, diagnosis...
Community Support Service (Adults)
The Community Support Teams for Adults/Community Supports for Adults supports individuals living with persistent mental illness to develop and maintain a safe, satisfying...
Adult Community Mental Health and Addictions Services
Community Mental Health and Addictions includes a team of mental health and addictions professionals who provide services on an outpatient basis. The team provides assessment...
Child and Adolescent Services
Child and Adolescent Services/Child Youth and Family/Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinical Services provide mental health and addiction services to children and youth...