Tests and diagnosisBy Mayo Clinic staff
There are no physical tests to determine the exact degree to which you're dependent on nicotine. Your doctor may ask you questions or have you complete a questionnaire to get a sense of how dependant you are on nicotine. The more cigarettes you smoke each day and the sooner you smoke after awakening, the more dependent you are.
In diagnosing nicotine dependence, your doctor likely will consider criteria detailed in a book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health providers to help them diagnose conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.
DSM criteria for nicotine dependence include three or more of the following at any time in the same 12-month period:
- You've developed nicotine tolerance. The effect of nicotine is most intense the first time you use it. Common side effects, such as nausea and dizziness, will lessen the more and longer you smoke.
- You experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using tobacco.
- You often take tobacco in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended.
- You spend a lot of time obtaining or maintaining your supply of tobacco.
- You've made persistent or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control your tobacco use.
- You have limited or given up important social, occupational or recreational activities because of tobacco use.
- You continue to use tobacco despite knowing you have medical problems that are likely related to tobacco dependence.
Knowing your degree of dependence will help your doctor determine the best medication plan for you.
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