What is it?
Nicotine dependence also called tobacco dependence is an addiction to tobacco products caused by the drug nicotine. Nicotine dependence means you cant stop using the substance, even though its causing you harm.
What are the symptoms?
For some people, using any amount of tobacco can quickly lead to nicotine dependence. Signs that you may be addicted include:
- You cant stop smoking. Youve made one or more serious, but unsuccessful, attempts to stop.
- You experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop. Your attempts at stopping have caused physical and mood-related symptoms, such as strong cravings, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, depressed mood, frustration, anger, increased hunger, insomnia, constipation or diarrhea.
- You keep smoking despite health problems. Even though youve developed health problems with your lungs or your heart, you havent been able to stop.
- You give up social or recreational activities in order to smoke. You may stop going to smoke-free restaurants or stop socializing with certain family members or friends because you cant smoke in these locations or situations.
- Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity has been found to reduce withdrawal symptoms and help people stop smoking. Exercise also helps avoid potential weight gain often associated with stopping.
- Wait out cravings. Cravings or urges usually last less than five minutes. Wash the dishes, go for a walk or have a healthy snack, such as carrots, an apple or sunflower seeds, which will keep your mouth busy. Do something that keeps your hands busy, and before you know it, the urge will have passed. This is why you want to get rid of tobacco supplies when you decide to quit. You dont want to have any on hand when a craving hits.
- Identify rationalizations. If you find yourself thinking, “Ill just smoke one to get through this tough time” or “Just one wont hurt,” recognize it as a message that can derail your plan. Review your reasons for quitting, and replace that thought with something positive to support your stopping.
- Talk to a support person. If youre feeling anxious or depressed or need encouragement, a support person can help you get through a difficult craving.
- Eat regular, healthy meals. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables, and drink more water.
- Avoid high-risk situations. Know your triggers, and stay away from people, places and situations that tempt you to smoke.
Things to watch out for
Quitting is the best thing youll ever do. Speak to your GP for various treatment options.