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Who Is At Risk For Nicotine Dependence & Is There A Blood Test For It?

Various factors increase the risk of a person for developing nicotine dependence. There is no blood test for evaluating nicotine dependence; however, the level of nicotine in the blood can be measured. A urine test can also be done to test the presence of nicotine.

Who Is At Risk For Nicotine Dependence?

Who Is At Risk For Nicotine Dependence?

Nicotine dependence occurs in most of the people who initiate smoking. People smoke because of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms occurs during the period of non-smoking. Certain people are at increased risk of nicotine dependence as compared to other people. Biasness for smoking in context to gender is progressively taking a back seat while both boys and girls are equally growing addictive to nicotine with a varying set of causes. Following are some of the risk factors that have an impact on nicotine dependence:

Age: Age plays an important role in determining whether a person has a high risk of developing nicotine dependence. Starting smoking at an early age significantly increases the nicotine dependence later in life. American Society of Addiction Medicine states that it is less common that adult start smoking and even if they initiate smoking, they might not have nicotine dependence1.

Other Forms Of Drug Abuse: People who are in the habit for other forms of abuse such as alcohol and use of illicit drugs are more likely to start smoking and have nicotine dependence. This may also be assisted by the external forces such as pressure from friends and peers.

Mental Illness: Nicotine helps in relaxing the mind. Nicotine dependence is thus, increased in those people who are suffering from mental illness. Such diseases include schizophrenia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other psychiatric disorders.

Genetics: Nicotine dependence is found to have affected by the genes. A gene, DNMT3B gene, has a DNA variant that is responsible for the development of nicotine dependence and also increases the incidence of heavy smoking with lung cancer as its consequence2.

Other Family Members: Risk of nicotine dependence largely increased if the family members of the person smoke, preferably in the house. People with a family history of smoking are more likely to initiate smoking

Lack Of Parental Monitoring: Lack of parental monitoring also increases the risk of nicotine dependence. Such people easily succumb to peer pressure and initiates smoking which, later in life, lead to nicotine deficiency.

Stress And Depression: People under stress and depression also make their way to smoking. Prolong period of stress and depression results in nicotine dependency. Various studies have shown the connection of depression with smoking3.

Myths Associated With Smoking: Various myths drive the adolescence towards smoking. Girls, in particular, look smoking as an effective way to reduce or maintain weight. Further, the lack of proper knowledge and side effects of nicotine also tends to cause nicotine dependence later in life.

Marketing Influences: Marketing of such products also portrays an image in such a manner that may lead to regular use and addiction of nicotine4.

Blood Test For Nicotine Dependence

Although there is no blood test to determine nicotine dependence, nicotine in the blood can be measured through some tests. When taken inside the body, the liver metabolizes nicotine which results in the formation of at least 20 different compounds. The primary metabolite of nicotine is known as cotinine. Generally, cotinine is measured to assess the exposure of tobacco products due to its stability. The compound is exclusively produced during nicotine metabolism5. Cotinine has a half-life of 7-40 hours while nicotine has the half-life of around 4 hours. Apart from the blood test, nicotine tests may also involve identifying various metabolites in urine. An important test used for evaluating nicotine dependence is Fagerstrom nicotine dependence test.


Risk factor for nicotine dependence involves age, mental illness, myths, lack of parental monitoring, marketing influences, genetics and stress, and depression. Nicotine dependence can be evaluated through Fagerstrom nicotine dependence test.


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Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 16, 2019

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