Key Points about Tobacco Addiction

  • Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical in tobacco that releases nicotine into the bloodstream that rapidly reaches the brain, causing a release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine.
  • The highly addictive chemical in tobacco is nicotine, which causes the release of neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine, which regulates mood and behavior.
  • Anyone who consumes tobacco is at risk of developing an addiction.
  • Call your doctor if you have tried to quit tobacco but have been unsuccessful.
Common related conditions
Anxiety

Overview

Tobacco addiction is the habitual use of, and dependence on, tobacco. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical in tobacco that releases nicotine into the bloodstream that quickly reaches the brain, causing a release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and adrenaline. This rapid release of chemicals in the brain can cause brief feelings of elevated mood, relaxation and pleasure.

Tobacco addiction can lead to a host of serious medical complications, such as an increased risk of lung cancer, diabetes, heart disease, infertility, gum disease, and premature aging. Call your doctor if you have tried to quit tobacco but have been unsuccessful.

Tobacco addiction causes

Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical in tobacco that, when inhaled, releases nicotine into the bloodstream that rapidly reaches the brain, causing a release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine that impact mood and behavior.

Tobacco addiction risk factors

Anyone who consumes tobacco is at risk of developing an addiction.

You may be more likely to use tobacco if you:

  • Have genetic factors that increase your likelihood of addiction
  • Are surrounded by peers or family members who smoke
  • Began smoking at a young age
  • Have an existing mental health condition
  • Abuse other substances

Tobacco addiction symptoms

Symptoms of tobacco addiction include:

  • An inability to quit smoking, even if you have tried
  • Having withdrawal symptoms if you try to avoid smoking
  • Continuing to smoke despite health issues that resulted from your smoking
  • Quitting social or recreational activities in order to keep smoking

Tobacco addiction complications

People who consume tobacco are at an increased risk of developing a host of additional health problems. Such complications may include:

  • Lung cancer
  • Lung diseases such as COPD
  • Several types of cancer
  • Heart and cardiovascular issues
  • Diabetes
  • Eye problems
  • Infertility in women and impotence in men
  • Complications in pregnancy and newborn babies
  • Illnesses such as colds, the flu, and bronchitis
  • Impaired sense of smell and taste
  • Gum and teeth decay and disease
  • Premature skin aging and wrinkles
  • An increased risk of tobacco-related illnesses for your friends and family members exposed to second-hand smoke

Tobacco addiction prevention

The only way to prevent tobacco addiction is to avoid the substance altogether.

Tobacco addiction diagnosis

When diagnosing tobacco addiction your provider may ask questions or administer a questionnaire to assess your tobacco consumption, and your level of dependence.

Tobacco addiction treatment

Treatment options for tobacco addiction include:

  • Counseling to help develop skills and a plan for abstaining from tobacco long-term
  • Medications to reduce dependence
  • Nicotine replacement therapy to ease withdrawal symptoms while trying to avoid the harmful chemicals in tobacco products

Additional tips for quitting smoking include:

  • Choosing a stop date, and stopping when that day comes
  • Creating a list of the reasons you want to quit
  • Taking note of where and when you use tobacco, to prepare for moments when you may feel cravings or pressure to smoke
  • Getting rid of all your tobacco
  • Telling your friends and family you are quitting, to gain their support and hold yourself accountable

When to seek care

If you have tried to quit tobacco but have been unsuccessful, consult your doctor to ask about treatment and to set up a comprehensive quitting plan.

Next Steps

Avoiding tobacco long-term requires gaining awareness of your triggers and developing plan of action to avoid tobacco in those situations. Ask your doctor about additional resources that can you quit tobacco.