Nicotine dependence, also called tobacco dependence is an addiction to tobacco products caused by the drug nicotine. Nicotine dependence means you can’t stop using the substance, even though it’s causing you harm.Tobacco use can lead to tobacco/nicotine dependence and serious health problems. Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol. Tobacco/nicotine dependence is a condition that often requires repeated treatments, but there are helpful treatments and resources for quitting. Smokers can and do quit smoking. In fact, today there are more former smokers than current smokers.
Nicotine is the chemical in tobacco that keeps you smoking. Nicotine is very addictive when delivered by inhaling tobacco smoke into the lungs, which quickly releases nicotine into the blood allowing it to get into the brain within seconds of taking a puff. In the brain nicotine increases the release of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which help regulate mood and behavior.
Dopamine, one of these neurotransmitters, is released in the “reward center” of the brain and causes improved mood and feelings of pleasure. Experiencing these effects from nicotine is what makes tobacco so addictive.