Alcohol & Drugs
A picture of Tobacco

What’s the deal with tobacco?

Tobacco is a substance found in run-of-the-mill cigarettes. Derived from the tobacco plant (nicotiana) the active ingredient in tobacco is known as nicotine. 

Nicotine is a stimulant and just like other stimulants it's effect on your body is the same. Tobacco works to increase the speed by which chemical messages are sent from the brain to the rest of your body. For some people, nicotine may be more addictive than heroin.

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) do not contain tobacco. Instead, they allow users to inhale nicotine and other chemicals in vapour form rather than the standard good-ol' fashioned durrie.

How does it work?

Generally you smoke a cigarette and it is inhaled.

Effects

There is no such thing as a safe level of drug use. Substance use carries risk. Smoking tobacco may affect people differently based on:

  • A person’s body weight
  • General state of health
  • Regular use of substance
  • If taken in combination with other drugs like prescription medication
  • The amount that is consumed
  • Quality of the tobacco (some have higher concentrations of nicotine)

Short Term Effects

Some people believe that smoking cigarettes which contain less nicotine is not as harmful to your health. There is little difference between the amount of chemicals contained in low tar or reduced nicotine cigarettes and the regular ones. Smoking tobacco may lead to any of the following:

  • Increased sense of relaxation
  • Dizziness and headaches
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tingling or numbness in the feet and toes
  • Reduced appetite, stomach cramps and vomiting

Long Term Effects

We've all seen those anti-smoking advertisements on the telly right? Well, they ain't lying. Regular use of tobacco may result in serious, long term health concerns including:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Asthma and lung disease
  • Reduced sense of taste and smell
  • Gum disease and tooth decay
  • Mood swings
  • Eye disease
  • Difficulties with pregnancy or in becoming pregnant
  • Irregular periods and early menopause
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Cancer
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Brain damage
  • Drug dependency

Safety

Determining your own choices is one of the greatest things that life has to offer. Your life, your choice in how you're living it. Maybe you smoke a cigarette or two at the end of a stressful day at work? Treat yo' self. Be aware though of the known dangers to smoking. Play it safe - both with yourself and with others. We've got some helpful tips to consider:

  • Set limits for yourself, and stick to them
  • Don’t let other people pressure you into smoking

Mixing with Other Drugs

The effect of tobacco in combination with other drugs including over-the-counter or prescribed medication is unpredictable. Here are some of the known interactions between tobacco and other drugs including prescription medications:

Tobacco + Benzodiazepines may result in the reduced effectiveness of benzodiazepines.

Tobacco + Contraception (the pill) may increase the risk of blood clot.

Risks to Others

Passive smoking is the result of breathing in all the toxic chemicals produced when other people go smoking darts in your general vicinity. It can cause many of the same health problems listed as both short term and long term effects so, please be responsible for your actions. Lighting up around infants, pregnant folk, someone breastfeeding or those with chronic respiratory conditions is plain ol' cheeky. Kind of like this:

Wow 1954. Just. Wow.

Living with HIV

Let's be frank, recreational drug use (whether it's legal or not) is likely to interact or even interfere with the treatment regime of a person living with HIV. Changes in the concentration of ARV's is a result of two or more drugs interacting. These changes in concentration are known to be the very thing which ultimatley leads to treatment failure and toxicity.  

Interactions with HIV Medications

If you're HIV+ and a recreational user, check in regularly with your GP or an experienced HIV medical practitioner. Know your limits, know your body and be aware of the impact that other substances may have on your treatment.

We're unaware of any interactions or cross interaction between tobacco and ARV's. This however, does not mean that it's safe to cut sick on the ciggies thinking that it's not interacting with any medications taken for the treatment of HIV. Always exercise caution if mixing drugs.

Taking Hormones

For trans, gender diverse or intersex people who are taking some form of hormone therapy, it's important to be aware and informed of how your body processes these treatments.

Currently, there is limited information into the interactions and cross interactions of hormone therapy and recreational drug use but that doesn't mean we'll stop asking for it. Whether your hormones are prescribed by a doctor or you've sourced them yourself from the internet, make it a priority to get regular health checks. Sometimes, a change in dosage or preparation of hormones is needed and a qualified medical practitioner is the person best placed to advise you of this.

Interactions with Hormones

If you're not comfortable talking about your gender, gender identity or bodily difference with your doctor, get in touch and we can make recommendations for a service that is best placed to support your needs.

We're unaware of any interactions or cross interaction between tobacco and the hormones. This however, does not mean that it's not interacting with any of the medications that you may be taking. Always exercise caution if mixing drugs.

Treatment

Feel like you've swallowed an ashtray? If your tobacco use has begun to have a negative impact on your health, your relationships with family and friends, your ability to focus on work or study or perhaps even the bottom line on your bank account - it's time to TouchBase with somebody who can help.

There are a number of treatment options and support services available for you or your family and friends if they need it. Whatever your recovery goals are, if it is to control, reduce or stop tobacco use, reach out for some support.

Counselling & Support

Counselling can be provided individually or in a group situation, and is available to people who use alcohol or other drugs, and to their family members or support people. A support service can offer counselling or direct you to a service appropriate for you. Speak to your doctor, alcohol and other drugs treatment service or local community health service.

Contact QUIT or Find help and support services.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation programs take a long term approach to treatment to help you achieve your goals with your alcohol or other drug use. Residential withdrawal is also available from some treatment services.

Find out more about withdrawal.

Complementary therapies

These include treatments such as massage and relaxation therapies, which can be useful to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. 

Peer support 

These programs are provided for people who use alcohol and other drugs, and their family members or support person/s. 

Pharmacotherapy

Substitution pharmacotherapy is the use of medication to replace a harmful drug. This is given as a legal, measured, prescribed dose of a drug and helps take away cravings. So you can work on the other issues that will help you to recover.

Pharmacotherapy is available for withdrawal from tobacco. Your doctor or treatment service can give you more information about what is available to help you.

Withdrawal & Rehab

Giving up the durries after years of chronic smoking can be a challenge. Quitting smoking, regardless of how long that you've been at it is hard work. Withdrawal symptoms usually start within 2 to 3 hours after you last use tobacco. These symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks and may include:

  • Cravings
  • Irritability, anxiety and depression
  • Restless, disturbed sleep
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Headaches
  • General aches and pains
Important notice

Please note: The information given on this page is not medical advice and should not be relied upon in that way. Individuals wanting medical advice about Tobacco should consult a health professional.