Nicotine dependence — also called tobacco dependence — is an addiction to tobacco products caused by the drug nicotine. Nicotine dependence means you can't stop using the substance, even though it's causing you harm.
Nicotine produces physical and mood-altering effects in your brain that are temporarily pleasing. These effects make you want to use tobacco and lead to dependence. At the same time, stopping tobacco use causes withdrawal symptoms, including irritability and anxiety.
While it's the nicotine in tobacco that causes nicotine dependence, the toxic effects of tobacco result from other substances in tobacco. Smokers have much higher rates of heart disease, stroke and cancer than nonsmokers do.
Regardless of how long you've smoked, stopping smoking can improve your health. Many effective treatments for nicotine dependence are available to help you manage withdrawal and stop smoking for good. Ask your doctor for help.
June 04, 2013
- Cigarette smoking. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/tobaccocancer/cigarettesmoking/cigarette-smoking-toc. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Guide to quitting smoking. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/guidetoquittingsmoking/index. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Questions about smoking, tobacco and health. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/tobaccocancer/questionsaboutsmokingtobaccoandhealth/questions-about-smoking-tobacco-and-health-intro-and-background. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- DrugFacts: Cigarettes and other tobacco products. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cigarettes-other-tobacco-products. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Horn K, et al. Effects of physical activity on teen smoking cessation. Pediatrics. 2011:128:e801.
- Schroeder SA. New evidence that cigarette smoking remains most important health hazard. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;368:389.
- Child and teen tobacco use. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/tobaccocancer/childandteentobaccouse/child-and-teen-tobacco-use-child-and-teen-tobacco-use. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Rigotti NA, et al. Benefits of smoking cessation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults: A report of the surgeon general — Executive summary. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2012/index.htm. Accessed April 16, 2013.
- Danovitch I. The clinical assessment and treatment of nicotine dependence. Focus. 2011;9:15.
- Frequently asked questions about quitlines. Smokefree.gov. http://www.smokefree.gov/quitlines-faq.aspx. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Quit guide: Clearing the air. Smokefree.gov. http://www.smokefree.gov/quit-guide.aspx. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Find tools to help you quit. Smokefree.gov. http://www.smokefree.gov/tools.aspx. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- A report on the surgeon general: How tobacco smoking causes disease — The biology and behavioral basis for smoking-attributable disease fact sheet. Surgeongeneral.gov. www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/tobaccosmoke/factsheet.html. Accessed April 18, 2013.
- Ebbert JO (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 23, 2013.
- Nicotine replacement therapy labels may change. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm345087.htm. Accessed April 26, 2013.
- Hurt RD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 15, 2013.