Nicotine dependence: Symptoms, causes, and treatment

Nicotine is an addictive substance that is mainly taken in through the lungs through smoking tobacco products. The urge to continue smoking and the well-documented difficulties in quitting the habit come from nicotine dependence.

The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recorded in 2016, suggest that 15.5 percent of people aged 18 years or older in the United States considered themselves smokers at the time.

The CDC also advises that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.

Several nations have significantly increased taxes on tobacco products and regularly launch anti-smoking campaigns. Many countries have legislation banning smoking in shops and other public places.


cigarettes in pack
Cigarettes can lead to addiction and associated symptoms, such as withdrawal.

Symptoms can depend on the individual. Some people become completely dependent fairly rapidly.

Examples include:

at least one serious, unsuccessful attempt to stop

withdrawal symptoms, including cravings, moodiness and irritability, poor concentration, depressed mood, increased appetite, and insomnia. Diarrhea or constipation may also occur.

continuing to smoke despite smoking-related illnesses, such as a lung or heart condition

giving up activities because of smoking, for example, avoiding smoke-free restaurants


The prospect of coping without cigarettes can feel daunting. The first step is to think carefully about how you feel about smoking. Afterward, compile a list of your personal reasons for quitting. Finally, set a quit date.

Some people have been moving onto vapes and e-cigarettes in an attempt to quit. While these nicotine delivery methods have shown fewer harmful effects than smoking cigarettes, this would not help a person combat an addiction to nicotine, unless it is seen as a temporary measure as part of a guided smoking cessation program.

The benefits of quitting are profound. The following tips may help the individual stop smoking forever:

Identify the triggers and situations that make you smoke. This will help you to plan and prepare yourself.

Family, friends, work colleagues, or school friends can help support or encourage you. It is important to be open about quitting and to explain the importance of their encouragement is.

Focus on positive thoughts that reinforce quitting. See this move as a liberation and not a sacrifice.

Reduce exposure to smoking as much as possible. If there are people in your household who smoke, try to come to some arrangement, at least until you have become more confident about your prospects of quitting long-term.

Regularly read your list of reasons to give up smoking. Remind yourself of its importance.

Avoid drinking alcohol until you are completely smoke-free.

When you reach certain milestones, treat yourself. You could save the money you would have spent on cigarettes and put it towards something you really want.

Relieve stress in other ways. Exercise is great for stress relief, as well as yoga and meditation. An exercise program will also encourage you to remain smoke-free as your fitness levels improve.

When you have a craving, breathe in deeply and visualize your lungs are filling with fresh, clean air. Remind yourself why you quit and the benefits you are gaining.

Cravings are temporary. If you are experiencing these, take a 10-minute break from whatever you are doing. This break may give you time to move beyond the craving.

Smoking is harmful, but you can start reversing the damage today.

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Medications and therapies

There are several proven medications and therapies available today to help a person quit nicotine. A doctor can offer useful advice on the available options.

Combining two methods, for example, nicotine-replacement-therapy (NRT) plus a nicotine patch, may be more effective.

Nicotine replacement therapy

quit smoking
Nicotine replacement therapy can help break the habit.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a way of taking in nicotine without smoking.

NRT releases nicotine into the bloodstream at lower doses than tobacco smoke.

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