Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine or 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.

Nicotine produces physical and mood-altering effects in your brain that are temporarily pleasing. These effects make you want to use tobacco and lead to dependence. At the same time, stopping tobacco use causes withdrawal symptoms, including irritability and anxiety.

Smokers have much higher rates of heart disease, stroke and cancer than nonsmokers do. Smoking is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK and accounts for around 100,000 deaths in the UK each year.

Smoking increases the risk of developing over 50 serious health conditions; some of which can be fatal while others can cause irreversible long-term health damage.

Regardless of how long you’ve smoked, stopping smoking can improve your health. Many effective treatments for nicotine dependence are available to help you manage withdrawal and stop smoking for good.

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For some people, using any amount of tobacco can quickly lead to nicotine dependence. Signs that you may be addicted include:

  • Can’t stop smoking. You’ve made one or more serious, but unsuccessful, attempts to stop.
  • Experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop. Your attempts at stopping have caused physical and mood-related symptoms, such as strong cravings, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, depressed mood, frustration, anger, increased hunger, insomnia, constipation or diarrhea.
  • Keep smoking despite health problems. Even though you’ve developed health problems with your lungs or your heart, you haven’t been able to stop.
  • Give up social or recreational activities in order to smoke. You may stop going to smoke-free restaurants or stop socializing with certain family members or friends because you can’t smoke in these locations or situations.

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    Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation could offer an alternative treatment option for the cravings that smokers experience in nicotine addiction. Transcranial magnetic stimulation works directly on the associated areas of the brain and has shown excellent results in a variety of treatment areas, including helping people to stop smoking.

    Research evidence

    1) Preliminary results also indicate benefit in reducing craving and relapse in smoking cessation.

    2) In a study with 37 smokers who failed to quit with the usual treatments were randomly assigned to two treatment groups to receive either active (n = 18) or sham (n = 19) low frequency rTMS of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The day after quitting smoking, each patient combined Nicotine patches with active or sham rTMS (10 sessions) for 2 weeks. Cessation support was then continued with nicotine patches alone using lower-dose patches. At the end of the combined treatment, there were significantly more abstinent participants in the active rTMS group (n = 16) than in the sham rTMS group (n = 9) (P = 0.027). The craving scales analysis revealed that active rTMS (P = 0.011) but not sham rTMS (P = 0.116) led to a significant decrease in the compulsive factor.

    (Trojak et al, 2015)

    To arrange a free telephone consultation or to ask us questions about how rTMS therapy can help you, call us today on 01925 661721 or email us at

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