How do I know if I am addicted to nicotine?

Signs of addiction are a tolerance to nicotine, and behavioral symptoms that are triggered by nicotine withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal include craving for cigarettes, depressed mood, sleep problems, irritability and anger, anxiety, restlessness, and increased appetite. Nicotine addiction can develop after as few as 100 cigarettes, and the likelihood of dependence increases with the number of cigarettes and duration of smoking. Studies show that those with a higher level of nicotine addiction are less likely to be successful in attempting to quit.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
If you put a cigarette to your lips and inhale, you are taking in one of the most addictive substances known to mankind. That's why smokers become quickly addicted to nicotine. You can tell whether you are addicted to any drug by examining how you behave when you are under its influence. Your level of addiction depends on your personal tolerance, your need for more, how your body reacts when you don't get it, the impact of withdrawal symptoms on your daily functioning, and your ability to stop. So if you're not sure if you're addicted, there are a few questions you should ask yourself. If you answer yes to any of the following, you're probably addicted to nicotine:
  • Do you smoke everyday?
  • When you don't smoke, do you get distressed?
  • Are you unable to regulate how much you are smoking?
  • Have you had trouble stopping?
  • Do you often think about when you will have your next cigarette?
  • Do you feel like you need to smoke or you'll go crazy?
  • Do you ignore the damage that smoking is doing to your body?
  • Do you get annoyed when friends say something about you smoking?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, symptoms include a need to increase the amount of nicotine used to achieve the desired effect, experiencing withdrawal symptoms, or using nicotine to prevent withdrawal, unsuccessfully attempting to cut down or control the use of nicotine, and continuing to use nicotine despite having persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problems related to or made worse by the nicotine.
Robert S. Kaufmann, MD
Internal Medicine

If you stop smoking and you are craving a cigarette and start having withdrawal symptoms then you are addicted.  Withdrawal symptoms can be heart palpitations.  They also can have headaches, anxiety and a host of other symptoms.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Do you smoke, chew, or use tobacco products in any other way?  Then you are addicted.  The other way is throw away the cigarettes or chew, or whatever, and see if you can go without them with no consequence and no problems and cravings for a long period of time.  Try it for a week at a time.  If you can go a week at a time without needing nicotine, you are no longer addicted and you might as well quit smoking, or chewing, or whatever way you are getting tobacco.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.