Thursday January 17th 2019

You're leaving and will be automatically redirected to

Go back to

Nicotine Dependence

Are You Nicotine Dependent?

You are not alone.

Here, we hope to educate you about what causes dependence and why it’s so difficult to quit smoking once you’re addicted. We’ll answer questions like:

  • What exactly is nicotine dependence?
  • How is it formed?
  • How can you end your nicotine dependence?

In this article, you’ll find out more about dependence to nicotine, its nature, signs and symptoms, and ways to address dependency. At the end, you are welcomed to send us additional questions. We are happy to answer and do our best to provide personal and prompt response to all legitimate inquiries.

How people get their nicotine buzz

Smoking tobacco is the most common route of rapid administration of nicotine to the body. Nicotine is absorbed through the lungs where it passes into the bloodstream and is distributed to multiple body systems. Still, there are many ways a person can use nicotine. Nicotine is delivered when you:

  • Chew tobacco.
  • Dip tobacco.
  • Smoke cigarettes, hand-rolled tobacco, pipes, cigars or hookahs.
  • Smoke different levels of liquid nicotine through e-cigarette.
  • Sniff tobacco.
  • Use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products intended for smoking cessation.

Over time, as you continue to deliver nicotine to your body, you can develop dependence on this psychoactive drug. Dependence makes it difficult to stop use. Even though you want to…even though it’s causing you harm.

What Is Nicotine Dependence?

Nicotine dependence occurs after continued and chronic use of tobacco, tobacco products and nicotine products. Dependence often leads to an increase in use and inability to quit easily. It is mainly diagnosed via the presence of nicotine withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit or cut back on nicotine. The most common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:

  • Cravings
  • Dizziness
  • Irritation
  • Headache
  • Weight gain

Dependence makes it difficult to quit smoking! In fact, most people simply cannot stop using nicotine, even though they are aware of potential side-effects, or already experiencing harm.

Risk of nicotine dependence

The risk for developing dependence, in addition to frequency and amount of use, is related to the level of nicotine a product contains and how fast it can get to your brain. For example:

  • Smoking tobacco delivers a large amount of nicotine to the brain in about 6 seconds.
  • Chewing and sniffing tobacco deliver smaller nicotine levels and take longer to reach the brain.
  • Nicotine replacement products contain less nicotine and deliver it at a slower rate than any other product.

The Science Behind Nicotine Dependence

Nicotine is a mood-altering, habit-forming drug found in tobacco that produces temporarily pleasing physical and psychological effects. It attaches to nicotinic receptors in the brain and stimulates the release of several neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which creates a pleasurable association with smoking. The effects of pleasure and relaxation can make you want to use tobacco again and again…which in turn can lead to dependence.

As the body becomes accustomed to the presence of nicotine, whether quickly or slowly, any cessation or cutting back on nicotine delivery will provoke withdrawal symptoms. Effects may include urges to smoke, negative moods, and difficulty concentrating…which can be resolved immediately by delivering nicotine to the body.

To simplify, nicotine dependence use patterns look like this:

  1. Use nicotine.
  2. Get accustomed to feeling good with nicotine.
  3. Feel sick when nicotine is stopped.
  4. Continue to use to prevent withdrawal.

Nicotine Dependence Signs

Dependence on nicotine has certain physical and behavioral factors. If you are unsure about whether your or a loved one’s tobacco and/or nicotine product use is turning into dependence, there are ways you can find out. Here is a list of signs that indicate nicotine dependence:

  • Continued use despite health risks and problems.
  • Experiencing withdrawals when cutting back or stopping use.
  • Feeling a compulsive urge to use nicotine.
  • Giving up social/recreational activities if smoking is restricted.
  • Not being able to quit although trying to end nicotine use.
  • Obsessing over obtaining and using nicotine products.

Nicotine dependence is also connected to behaviors, patterns and situations in which a smoker is compelled to use tobacco. These situations include smoking:

  • After a meal
  • At certain places, along with certain people
  • During work breaks
  • If you see or smell a burning cigarette
  • In stressful situations to calm down
  • Right after you wake up
  • When feeling stressed or down
  • When going out and/or drinking alcohol
  • While driving
  • While talking on the phone
  • With morning coffee


Does this sound familiar?
Are you ready to Quit Nicotine For Good?
Please call us.
There are effective medical ways to address the issues you are facing!


How To End Nicotine Dependence

Almost every nicotine dependent person who tries to quit will have several unsuccessful attempts before succeeding. The best way to stop nicotine use is by following a treatment plan that addresses both your physical (through nicotine detox) and mental aspects (through therapy) of nicotine dependence. Medical professionals and nicotine addiction treatment specialists can help prescribe medications and create a recovery program that fits your individual needs and preferences specifically.

So, if you’ve already tried quitting tobacco on your own and didn’t succeed, here is a list of treatment options:

1. Behavioral treatment. A variety of methods, ranging from self-help materials to individual or group counseling sessions can educate you how to better recognize risky behaviors in the future. They also teach coping strategies in order to deal with these situations, so you can successfully stay off nicotine long-term.

2. Nicotine Replacement Therapy. This a pharmacological treatment approach (medication based) used as a part of smoking cessation therapy. It has proven most successful when used in combination with behavioral treatments. Currently, the FDA approves nicotine replacement products including:

  • Chewing gums
  • Inhalers
  • Lozenges
  • Nasal sprays
  • Transdermal patches

3. Medications. FDA-approved medications used to treat nicotine dependence  that don’t contain nicotine include:

  • Bupropion (Zyban)
  • Valrencline (Chantix)
  • Nortriptyline (Pamelor)

These medications work by targeting nicotine receptors in the brain. This way, they can ease withdrawal symptoms and block the effect of nicotine for people who resume using.

4. Alternative counseling and support options. Every state in the U.S. has one or more telephone quit lines. You can take advantage of phone counseling to help you give up tobacco by calling 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669). There are also several internet-based programs. Several websites offer support and strategies for people who want to stop smoking.

5. Lifestyle changes. Start exercising regularly and make sure you eat regular, healthy meals that include plenty of fruits and vegetables. Keep yourself well hydrated and drink plenty of water. You can also find ways to keep yourself distracted by starting a new hobby or just doing something to keep your hands busy. Most importantly, you should get rid of all tobacco and nicotine products and avoid high-risk situations that may trigger nicotine abuse.

Nicotine Dependence Questions

If you have any comments or questions regarding nicotine dependence and withdrawal, you can post them in the section below. We are working to provide personal and prompt answers to all legitimate inquiries.

Reference Sources: Mayo Clinic: Nicotine dependence
SAMHSA: Nicotine Dependence among Persons Who Received Substance Use Treatment
New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services: Nicotine Dependence and Smoking Cessation

Nicotine Dependence

1 Tobacco Addiction Treatment

Tobacco Addiction Treatment

May 3rd, 2017

Want to kick the habit for good? It may seem impossible. We’re here to give you some hope. In this COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE, we cover how quitting tobacco can be treated medically and what treatment programs can do to help you live a smoke free life.

ADHD and teen smoking: What parents should know

ADHD and teen smoking: What parents should know

January 8th, 2016

A featured article from Dr. Lisa R. Fortuna, MD, MPH, expert on teen addiction who helps outline mental health issues for parents. Here, she considers the research on the social and neuro-developmental factors related to teen substance use disorders and mental health, and translates that into everyday language and practical recommendations.

165 Nicotine withdrawal symptoms timeline

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms timeline

September 21st, 2011

How long does nicotine withdrawal last? Usually acute symptoms of nicotine withdrawal resolve in 10 days. Find a timeline of nicotine withdrawal symptoms, plus info on the overall duration of symptoms here.

Leave a Reply