DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Nicotine dependence is an addiction to tobacco products caused by the drug nicotine. Nicotine dependence — also referred to as tobacco dependence — means you can't stop using the substance, even though it's causing you harm. While it's the nicotine in tobacco that causes nicotine dependence, the toxic effects come mainly from other substances in tobacco. Smokers have much higher rates of heart disease, stroke and cancer than do nonsmokers.
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.
Many effective treatments for nicotine dependence are available to help you manage withdrawal and stop smoking for good. Ask your doctor for help.
- Nicotine. NIDA for Teens. http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/drnida/drnida_nic1.asp. Accessed Sept. 15, 2010.
- 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 Sept. 15, 2010.
- Rigotti NA, et al. Patterns of tobacco use and benefits of smoking cessation. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 15, 2010.
- Cigarettes and other tobacco products. NIDA. http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html. Accessed Sept. 15, 2010.
- Renard SI, et al. Management of smoking cessation in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 15, 2010.
- Sackey JA. Smoking cessation counseling strategies in primary care. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 15, 2010.
- Smoking and how to quit. The National Women's Health Information Center. http://www.womenshealth.gov/quit-smoking/parents/. Accessed Sept. 15, 2010.
- Leone FT, et al. Behavioral interventions in tobacco dependence. Primary Care Clinics in Office Practice. 2009;36:489.
- Hatsukami DK, et al. Tobacco addiction. The Lancet. 2008;371:2027.
- Parents who quit smoking when their kids are young may have a big influence on whether their offspring will quit smoking in young adulthood. The Society for the Study of Addiction. http://www.addictionjournal.org/viewpressrelease.asp?pr=26. Accessed Sept. 15, 2010.
- Nicotine dependence. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Sept. 15, 2010.
- Hurt RD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 12, 2010.
- Hurt RD, et al. Treating Tobacco Dependence in a Medical Setting. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2009;59:314.