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Patient Education: Diseases Conditions Treatments & Procedures

Nicotine dependence

Introduction

Nicotine dependence is the physical vulnerability of your body to the chemical nicotine, which is potently addicting when delivered by various tobacco products. Smoke from cigarettes, cigars and pipes contains thousands of chemicals, including nicotine. Nicotine is also found in chewing tobacco.

Nicotine produces physical and mood-altering effects in your brain that are temporarily pleasing; these effects reinforce your continued use of tobacco and nicotine dependence.

Being addicted to tobacco brings you a host of health problems related to the substances in tobacco smoke. These effects include damage to your lungs, heart and blood vessels. Smokers have significantly higher rates of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Overcoming nicotine dependence is difficult and takes commitment, support and time. Even if you're a longtime smoker, stopping your nicotine dependence plus taking healthy lifestyle steps can reverse much of the damage smoking has done to your body.