What Is Nicotine Addiction?
Nicotine is a
highly addictive chemical found in the tobacco plant. The addiction is
physical, in that habitual users come to crave the chemical. It is also mental,
in that users consciously desire nicotine’s effects. Nicotine is primarily
consumed by inhaling the smoke of tobacco cigarettes. Other ways to smoke
tobacco include pipes and cigars. Smokeless tobacco is inhaled through the nose
as a powder or held in the mouth.
addiction is also behavioral. People become dependent on actions involved with
using tobacco. They also become accustomed to using tobacco in certain
situations, such as after meals or when under stress.
chewing tobacco is very dangerous. It causes many deadly health conditions. According
to the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, smoking is responsible for
about one in every six deaths in the U.S. (IIAR).
Stopping smoking, no matter how long you have smoked, can greatly benefit your
What Are the Effects of Nicotine Addiction?
The nearly 4,000 chemicals found in tobacco have physical, mental, and psychological
effects. Nicotine creates pleasant feelings in the body and mind. When you use
tobacco, your brain releases neurotransmitters such dopamine, the feel-good
chemical. This creates a brief feeling of contentment and pleasure.
cigarettes and smokeless tobacco contain many cancer-causing agents and other
harmful chemicals. Using tobacco leads to grave health complications,
especially in the respiratory system
issues like cataracts or macular degeneration
or pregnancy complications
flu, or respiratory infections
of sense of taste or smell
disease and dental issues
appearance of premature aging
of teeth, nails, and skin
also increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease among people close to
in homes with secondhand smoke are more likely to have SIDS, asthma,
respiratory or ear infections, and other illnesses (CDC).
What Causes Nicotine Addiction?
cigarettes or using other tobacco products causes nicotine addiction. Nicotine
is very addictive, so even infrequent use can lead to dependence.
Who Is at Risk
Anyone who uses
tobacco is at risk for developing an addiction. The best way to prevent an addiction
is to avoid tobacco.
Some factors may
increase the risk of addiction. People with a family history of nicotine addiction
and people who grow up in homes with tobacco users are more likely to start
smoking and develop an addiction. People who start smoking when they are young
are more likely to smoke into adulthood. It’s less common for adults to start
smoking or develop an addiction (American
Society of Addiction Medicine, 2013).
Also, people who
abuse alcohol or drugs or those with a mental illness have an increased risk of
What Are the Symptoms of Nicotine Addiction?
Signs of nicotine addiction include:
inability to stop
symptoms when nicotine use stops
desire to keep smoking even when health complications arise
impact on the user’s life
How Is Nicotine Addiction Diagnosed?
To diagnose a
nicotine addiction, your doctor will discuss your current usage and health
history. He or she will determine the degree of your dependence and suggest
People who want
to seek treatment for addiction will need to commit to stopping.
How Is Nicotine
There are many treatment
options for nicotine addiction, including medication, therapy, and support
groups. The physical part of the addiction can be very challenging to deal with.
To be successful, the patient must work to change behaviors and routines.
Some medications can be used
to help you quit smoking. They work to lessen cravings. One option is nicotine-replacement
therapy via patches, gums, lozenges, nasal sprays, or inhalers. These things provide
nicotine without the other chemicals. This allows you to defeat the addiction
in a slow and methodic manner.
options include antidepressants that work to increase dopamine production in
order to improve mood.
Whether you choose an
in-person support group or a virtual one, there are many groups that can teach
you coping skills, help you work through your addiction, and offer you the
support of fellowship with other people facing the same challenges you are.
for nicotine addiction focuses on medications and time. It takes time to work
through withdrawal symptoms and learn coping skills. Other suggestions include
getting regular exercise, choosing snacks that keep your mouth and hands busy, removing
all tobacco products from your home and car, avoiding situations that could
trigger a relapse, choosing healthy meals, and setting realistic expectations
about your treatment. Set small goals and reward yourself for meeting those
Other solutions that can
help overcome your addiction include hypnosis, acupuncture, and herbs, although
the safety and efficacy of each is mostly unknown.
What Are the
Effects of Nicotine Withdrawal?
users who attempt to stop using nicotine products will undergo withdrawal. Effects
of nicotine withdrawal include irritability, anxiety, and physical symptoms
such as headaches and fatigue.
The first week
will be the worst for withdrawal symptoms and each passing day will get easier.
Even when withdrawal symptoms have subsided, sudden cravings are common.
Learning discipline is vital for these situations.
What Is the
Outlook for Nicotine Addiction?
People who use
nicotine products are at a greatly increased risk for respiratory diseases,
cancers (primarily lung cancer), stroke, and heart disease.
how long you’ve smoked, you can minimize your risk of health problems by