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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.

 

The risks

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.

 

 

Tools

SMART Recovery - Self-Management And Recovery Training

SMART Recovery - Self-Management And Recovery Training
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) is a global community of mutual-support groups. At meetings, participants help one another resolve problems with any addiction (to drugs or alcohol or to activities such as gambling or over-eating)...

Visit SMART Recovery - Self-Management And Recovery Training

More Information:

Adults / Seniors

Mental Health 101

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

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. The tutorials can...

Visit Mental Health 101

More Information:

Adults / Seniors / Youth

21 Program(s)

Access Wellness Nova Scotia

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Access Wellness is a free single-session supportive counselling service for individuals, couples or families. 

Sessions can be held over the phone, online with video, or in-person. People can speak with a qualified professional and learn strategies...

Adults / Seniors / Youth

Membertou Health and Wellness Home

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Membertou Wellness Home delivers programs in heart disease/hypertension, smoking cessation, healthy weight, crisis prevention/intervention, mental health, pre-natal, diabetes foot care, addictions services, dental therapy, chronic disease, home...

Adults / Seniors
First Nations, Indigenous

Eskasoni Mental Health

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

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 Team...

Adults / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Caregivers Nova Scotia

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

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.

Adults / Seniors
Caregiver, Family

Kids Help Phone

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

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...

Children / Youth

211

211
This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

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.

Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services - Mental Health Programs and Services

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

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...

Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Veterans Affairs Canada Assistance Service

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

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...

Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Health Psychology

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.

Adults

Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic

The Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury Clinic (NSOSIC) belongs to a national network of OSI Clinics funded by Veterans Affairs Canada. The clinic provides mental health...

Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

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 quality...

Adults / Seniors

Adolescent Outreach Services

Adolescent Outreach Services (AOS) is an expansion of the CaperBase model, which originated in Cape Breton. AOS focuses on providing:

  • Brief and Early Intervention
  • Screening
  • Outreach
  • Community Partnerships

The AOS model is set up for youth aged 12...

Children / Youth

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