Managing Nicotine Dependence

Nicotine dependence is an addiction to one of the components of tobacco, nicotine. Nicotine releases chemicals in the brain that control mood and behavior, causing individuals to feel pleasure and satisfaction. Experiencing these good feelings leads to addiction. Symptoms include an inability to stop smoking and experiencing withdrawal symptoms like intense cravings, irritability, and insomnia when you stop.

The medications used for the treatment of nicotine dependence include nicotine replacement therapies (patch, gum, lozenge, spray, and inhaler), bupropion, varenicline, and nortriptyline. All nicotine replacement therapies send nicotine to the body through the skin or mouth. Side effects include insomnia, heartburn, nausea, coughing, and irritation of the skin, mouth, throat, and nose. Bupropion is an antidepressant that increases brain chemicals affected by nicotine. Side effects may include headache. Varenicline reduces feelings of pleasure. Side effects may include nausea. Nortriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant that increases brain chemicals affected by nicotine. Side effects may include dry mouth.