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Nicotine dependence

  • Most smokers become addicted to nicotine, a drug that is found naturally in tobacco.
  • More people in the United States are addicted to nicotine than to any other drug.
  • Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol.
  • Quitting smoking is hard and may require several attempts.
  • People who stop smoking often start again because of withdrawal symptoms, stress and weight gain.

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Feeling irritable, angry or anxious
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Craving tobacco products
  • Feeling hungrier than usual

Health Benefits of Quitting

  • Lowered risk for lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, lung cancer and many other types of cancer.
  • Reduced risk for stroke and peripheral vascular disease (narrowing of the blood vessels outside your heart).
  • Reduced heart disease risk within one to two years of quitting.
  • Reduced respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. While these symptoms may not disappear, they do not continue to progress at the same rate among people who quit compared to those who continue to smoke.
  • Reduced risk for infertility in women of childbearing age. Women who stop smoking during pregnancy also reduce their risk of having a low birth weight baby.

Ways to Quit Smoking

  • Help from a doctor
  • Individual, group or telephone counseling
  • Behavioral therapies (such as training in problem solving)
  • Mobile phone treatment programs
  • Nicotine replacement products, over-the-counter/prescription nicotine patches, inhalers, gum, lozenges and more
  • Prescription non-nicotine medications – i.e. bupropion SR (Zyban®) or varenicline tartrate (Chantix®)

Counseling and medication are both effective for treating tobacco dependence, and using them together is more effective than using either one alone.

When to see your doctor

Your primary care provider can provide you with necessary treatments, tools and resources to help you quit smoking.It’s important to work with your health care provider to overcome any challenges and find available treatments that will help you quit smoking.