Addiction, nicotine

Other names: Addiction, tobacco, Nicotine dependence, Smoking, Tobacco dependence, Tobacco use


Nicotine dependence, also known as tobacco dependence, is an addiction to tobacco products due to the drug nicotine. It leads to the inability to stop using tobacco despite its harmful effects. Nicotine exerts physical and mood-altering effects in the brain, creating a desire to use tobacco and causing dependence. Withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and anxiety occur upon cessation of tobacco use. Although nicotine causes dependence, the toxic effects of tobacco result from other substances in it. Smokers have higher rates of heart disease, stroke, and cancer than nonsmokers. Quitting smoking can significantly improve health, with various treatments available to manage withdrawal symptoms and achieve long-term cessation.


When to see a doctor: Consult a healthcare provider for assistance in developing a treatment plan addressing both physical and behavioral aspects of nicotine dependence.


Nicotine in tobacco is highly addictive, stimulating the release of brain chemicals like dopamine that regulate mood and behavior. Behavioral factors such as specific times, places, or emotional states associated with smoking contribute to nicotine dependence.



Tobacco smoke contains harmful chemicals leading to various health issues including lung diseases, cancers, heart problems, diabetes, eye problems, infertility, impotence, pregnancy complications, respiratory infections, weakened senses, gum disease, premature aging, and risks to family members.


It is essential to consider smoking triggers, list physical symptoms related to smoking, gather personal information and medications list before consulting a doctor. Questions about the impact of smoking on health and suitable treatment options should be discussed.


Doctors may assess nicotine dependence levels through questionnaires based on daily cigarette consumption and time until first cigarette after waking up. Criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders may also be considered for diagnosis.


Various medications like nicotine replacement therapy (patches, gum) and non-nicotine medications (bupropion, varenicline) are effective in treating nicotine dependence. Counseling and support groups complement medication therapy for successful long-term cessation.


Prevention of tobacco dependence involves creating smoke-free environments, supporting legislation against tobacco products, discussing smoking risks with teenagers, promoting personal feelings exploration among children, active participation in community programs against smoking.


Practical tips for maintaining smoke-free status include setting goals and plans for quitting smoking, seeking social support from family and friends, positive self-talk reinforcement, setting boundaries against smoking triggers like alcohol consumption, rewarding oneself for progress made in quitting.


  1. What is nicotine dependence?

Nicotine dependence is an addiction to tobacco products caused by the drug nicotine.

  1. What are common symptoms of nicotine dependence?

Symptoms include inability to quit smoking, withdrawal symptoms when attempting cessation.

  1. What factors influence nicotine dependence?

Genetics, home environment, peer influence are factors contributing to nicotine dependence.

  1. How can one prepare for a doctor's appointment regarding nicotine dependence?

By listing smoking triggers and related physical symptoms.

  1. What are some complications of tobacco smoke inhalation?

Complications include lung diseases, cancers, heart problems, diabetes.

  1. What treatments are available for nicotine dependence?

Medications like nicotine replacement therapy and counseling support groups.

  1. How can lifestyle changes prevent tobacco dependence?

Creating smoke-free environments and supporting anti-tobacco legislation.

  1. What are some coping strategies for maintaining a smoke-free life?

Seeking social support from family and friends and setting boundaries against smoking triggers.

  1. Are there non-nicotine medications available for treating nicotine dependence?

Yes, medications like bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix) are non-nicotine options.

  1. How effective is combining medication therapy with counseling for quitting smoking?

Combining medications with behavioral counseling provides the best chance for establishing long-term smoking abstinence.