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Nicotine Addiction Treatments in the Philippines: What's Available?

Nicotine Addiction Treatments in the Philippines: What's Available?

Nearly 24% of the Philippine population are currently tobacco users. This is roughly equivalent to 16.6 million people, according to the latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) from 2015. Out of this number, almost 77% planned to quit while 4% successfully quit within a year. Tobacco smoke attributes to many diseases and poor health outcomes. Doctors always recommend patients to quit smoking and nicotine addiction treatments are readily available.

The Science Behind Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine is naturally found in tobacco and other plants. When nicotine enters the body, it binds to receptors in the brain and nerves.

After binding, dopamine and other neurotransmitters are released. This is responsible for the feelings of pleasure and relief. However, this manipulation of the pleasure system of the brain contributes to dependency and addiction.

Nicotine is highly addictive and many people become hooked after the first use. The risk of addiction is greater the younger someone is exposed to nicotine or if someone in the family is dependent or addicted.

Nicotine Addiction Treatments

Non-pharmacological Interventions

Addiction is a complicated disorder that affects both the body and mind. In the Philippines, smoking cessation programs employ several strategies to help people quit. These strategies aim to motivate, guide, counsel, support, and prevent relapse.

Firstly, it is important to see a doctor. They can determine how severely nicotine and tobacco use has affected the body and help set goals. A psychologist or therapist also assists to determine if the addiction is accompanied by other psychological problems.

Even if face-to-face contact is not possible, smoking cessation hotlines, online consultations, and printed self-help materials are readily available.

Additionally, having supportive friends and family during this time is helpful. If multiple members of the household are actively smoking, it would be best to try quitting together. Exposure to secondhand smoke can harm health and trigger nicotine cravings.

Pharmacological Treatment

While behavioral therapy is very useful, some people require medical interventions to help their body and mind adjust. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) involves giving small doses of nicotine to replace tobacco use.

Common NRTs include chewing gum, patches, lozenges, and inhalational sprays. There is no downtime or waiting period to use NRTs after stopping tobacco. The greatest benefit of NRTs is that it reduces the severity of withdrawal symptoms, especially within the first month of quitting.

Additionally, e-cigarettes and vapes are one of the latest and widely available alternatives to smoking. They are often flavored with some or no nicotine. While they are often advertised as completely safe, there is still controversy as to their long-term effects.

Lastly, other medications without nicotine help reduce cravings. Bupropion and varenicline are the two drugs that are commonly used in smoking cessation programs. These may block nicotine receptors or reduce the reuptake of dopamine, which reduce the “rewarding” effects of nicotine in tobacco products.

Success Rates of Nicotine Addiction Treatments

According to statistics, the majority of tobacco quitters find themselves relapsing afterward. Over 50% of tobacco users are advised to quit by their doctors. However, roughly 4% manage to achieve lasting abstinence or successfully quit. The definition of lasting abstinence is at least 12 months without use.

Fortunately, quitting for good is possible when there is proper support. Completing rehabilitation or a cessation program is essential. Dropping out early makes it more likely to fail or relapse. In addition, take any prescribed medications as directed. Avoid missing doses or check-ups.

Lastly, it is important to know triggers for cravings. Monitoring and avoiding triggers can help people deal better with their addiction. Some common triggers include:

  • Brewed coffee
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Stressful situations
  • Sex or orgasms
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Socializing or parties
  • Other activities previously associated with tobacco use

Key Takeaways

In summary, nicotine addiction therapy is readily available in the Philippines. Smoking has no health benefits and it harms both the user and those around them. If you are ready to quit, talk to a doctor or smoking cessation support group.

Learn more about how to Quit Smoking here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Smoking cessation program, https://doh.gov.ph/smoking-cessation-program, Accessed February 25, 2021

GATS Fact Sheet Philippines 2015, https://psa.gov.ph/sites/default/files/kmcd/GATS-PHL2016-Standalone%20Factsheet_13Mar2017.pdf, Accessed February 25, 2021

GATS Philippines, https://www.who.int/tobacco/surveillance/survey/gats/phl_country_report.pdf Accessed February 25, 2021

Know Your Triggers https://smokefree.gov/challenges-when-quitting/cravings-triggers/know-your-triggers Accessed February 25, 2021

Nicotine Replacement Therapy to Help You Quit Tobacco https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/guide-quitting-smoking/nicotine-replacement-therapy.html Accessed February 25, 2021

Principles of drug addiction treatment https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/podat_1.pdf Accessed February 25, 2021

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Written by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD Updated Jun 23