What is Nicotine Dependence or Tobacco Dependence?

Nicotine dependence or tobacco dependenceis a state where a person is addicted to tobacco products as they consist of drug nicotine. Nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence refers to a condition where a person is unable to stop himself/herself from using the substance, even though they are aware of the fact that it is harmful.

Nicotine has a temporary pleasing effect on mind and body which makes a person addicted to it. Moreover, if a person stops taking nicotine, he/she suffers from withdrawal symptoms like severe anxiety and irritation.

The presence of nicotine in tobacco makes a person prone to addiction while certain substances in tobacco makes further harmful for health. Thus there is high risk of stroke and other heart diseases, also cancer in smokers as compared to non-smokers.

Coming out of nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence will always have a positive impact on health. There are various treatments available that can help you quit smoking and also manage withdrawal symptoms efficiently. Refer to your doctor for more assistance.

What is Nicotine Dependence or Tobacco Dependence?

How Long Does it Take to Withdraw From Nicotine?

You feel the real impact of Nicotine withdrawal symptoms after 2 to 3 days of quitting nicotine. While it takes 1 to 3 months for symptoms to go away completely. Low energy and irritability are most stubborn symptoms that takes longer than other symptoms.

In USA, statistics of American Heart Association reveals that about 23.1% of men (24.8 million) and 18.3% of women (21.1 million) are indulged in smoking. Further CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that cigarette smoking kills about 443,000 people every year in USA. It accounts for 20% of the total deaths which is more than the total percentage of deaths occurring from HIV, motor vehicle injuries, alcohol usage, suicides, illegal drug use and murders.

Causes of Nicotine Dependence or Tobacco Dependence

The major cause of nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence is the temporary pleasure it gives to the person who uses it. Tobacco consists of nicotine which enters into the lungs of our body as we inhale tobacco smoke thus releasing nicotine into the blood stream. As this chemical reaches the brain, it releases neurotransmitters which are the chemicals that regulate our mood and behavior.

One of the neurotransmitters called dopamine has a pleasing effective and lifts the mood which is the main cause for nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence.

Nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence affects our mind (routines, habits, feelings) as well as body which make an individual crave for nicotine or tobacco.

Signs and Symptoms of Nicotine Dependence or Tobacco Dependence

Following are some of the signs and symptoms indicating nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence:

  • Urge for smoking is the first sign of nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence. You cannot stop yourself from smoking.
  • The second symptom of nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence is that you experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop. In the process of trying to avoid smoking, you experience certain symptoms like irritability, strong cravings, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, anger, depressed mood, increased hunger, insomnia, frustration, diarrhea or constipation.
  • You continue to smoke even after having health problems. You cannot stop yourself from smoking even when you are diagnosed with problems with your heart or lungs.
  • Nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence starts to interfere with your social or recreational activities. You start to avoid people and places where you cannot smoke such as smoke-free restaurants or in front of your relatives of family members affecting your social life.

In case a smoker does not smoke for 24 hours or so, he/she is likely to show following withdrawal signs and symptoms:

  • Frustration or irritation, anger and insomnia are the major withdrawal symptoms of nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence.
  • Lightheadedness
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Problems focusing
  • Anxiety
  • Greater appetite
  • Slowing down of Heart rate
  • Tetchiness, sometimes even hostility.

When to Approach a Doctor for Nicotine Dependence or Tobacco Dependence?

There is nothing unusual if you make an unsuccessful attempt of quitting smoking. It can take many attempts to accomplish successful retrieval from nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence.

There are specific medications and treatment plans available that are very effective in helping you to quit smoking. Talking to counselors (a tobacco treatment specialist) can help you a lot in getting away from nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence.

Refer to your doctor to get a treatment plan or know about better options that can help you in becoming free from nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence.

Risk Factors for Nicotine Dependence or Tobacco Dependence

Use of tobacco or smoking will encourage nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence. Following are some risk factors that influence you to use tobacco:

  • Genes are a risk factor for nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence. Genetic factors can have an impact on getting addicted to nicotine as addiction depends on how the receptors that are present on the surface of nerve cells of brain respond to presence of nicotine and thus response is partly subjected to inheritance.
  • Patents and friends influence is a risk factor for nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence. The atmosphere where children grow up consisting of family members and friends can have a huge impact and habit of smoking can easily catch up from family or friends. Even it has been proved that the act of smoking shown in internet or movies can promote nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence in children.
  • Age is also a factor of risk for nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence. Most of the smokers get addicted to smoking during early age suggesting that people are more prone to getting addicted to smoking when they are younger.
  • Another risk factor for nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence is depression or other mental illness. Studies suggest that smoking can cause depression. Further most of the people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophreniadepression and other mental illness are smokers.
  • Substance usage. Alcoholic and druggist are also highly prone to nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence.

Complications because of Nicotine Dependence or Tobacco Dependence

Nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence has too many complications. There are more than 60 cancer causing chemicals contained in tobacco smoke along with thousands of substances that are harmful for the body. Herbal cigarettes are also very harmful for your health.

Smoking is very injurious to health causing damage to almost every organ and weakens the immune system. Death of one out of every two smokers is caused by nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence.

Tobacco is equally harmful to female smokers causing life threatening diseases such as COPD, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence causes following complications:

  • Lung cancer and other diseases of lung are complications of nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence. Smoking is responsible for many diseases of lungs like emphysema, asthma and chronic bronchitis. 90 percent of lung cancer results from smoking.
  • Nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence is also responsible for cancers of larynx, esophagus, mouth and throat (pharynx). It also increases the risk of cancer of pancreas, bladder, cervix, kidney and some leukemia. Overall, 3 out of every 10 deaths due to cancer are caused due to smoking.
  • Heart and circulatory system problems are caused by nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence. Smoking is also responsible for various types of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease such as stroke and heart attack and can further worsen the existing heart and blood vessel diseases including failure of heart. Quitting smoking during the first year can reduce the risk of occurrence of heart attack by as much as 50 percent.
  • Nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence can also result in development of type 2 diabetes as it makes the body resistant to insulin. In case of existing case of insulin, smoking can accelerate the development of complications including eye problems and kidney diseases.
  • Eye problems are a complication of nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence. It can cause macular degeneration which can create problems with eye and vision including cataracts and loss of eyesight.
  • Infertility and impotence is a major complication of nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence. It can cause impotency in men and infertility in women.
  • Pregnancy and newborn complications can result because of nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence. Smoking during pregnancy in women can lead to preterm delivery, miscarriage, lower birth weight and even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the newly born babies.
  • There is higher risk of respiratory infections like colds, flu and bronchitis in case of people with nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence.
  • Nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence can lead to loss of appetite by making senses of taste dead.
  • Teeth and gum disease are a complication of nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence. Smokers are more prone to gum inflammation (gingivitis) and other types of serious gum infection that can cause serious damage to support system for teeth (periodontitis).
  • Nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence can speed up the process of ageing by adversely affecting the structure of skin and causing wrinkles. It can also make the teeth, fingernails and fingers appear yellowish.
  • Nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence can cause even more harm to the passive smokers including spouse and partners increasing the heart diseases and lung cancer. Also the children are at risk of asthma, SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome, colds and ear infections.

Tests to Diagnose Nicotine Dependence or Tobacco Dependence

Doctors usually have a set of questions which they use to determine the level of nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence. Larger the number of cigarettes you smoke and earlier you feel the urge of smoking is an indications of higher nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence. Once the doctor is sure about the level of nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence, he can choose the right plan for treatment.

Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND) or Tobacco Dependence

The fagerstrom test for nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence is a standard test used to determine the level of nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence. The aim of the test is give an idea of the nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence due to smoking of cigarette. The test consists of six items that are used to determine the dependence, compulsion and quantity of cigarette consumption.

The scoring of Fagerstrom Test to determine the nicotine dependence or tobacco dependence is done on the basis of the response by the smoker in a scale from 0-10. Yes and No are registered as 0 and 1 respectively while for the multiple-choice answers, scores are given from 0-3. Higher score of total Fagerstrom is the indication of higher dependence on nicotine of patient physically.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: August 5, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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