nicotine dependency

Congratulations on taking the second step toward quitting tobacco! The first step was thinking about quitting. The second step was coming HERE to dig a little deeper into what might be out there to help you quit. See, you’ve already made progress toward quitting and you probably didn’t even realize it!

That being said, we know that most people want to quit tobacco on their own, and most have tried and failed, often numerous times. (“Cold Turkey” anyone?) While that can be frustrating, don’t lose hope. Tobacco use is more than just a “bad habit” and that’s why quitting isn’t as simple as tossing the pack and walking away. If you’re a tobacco user and want to quit, no matter what type of tobacco you use, the addiction to nicotine is strong, and the “habit” you’ve developed needs to be retrained. The od news is, we have programs that can help. But first, it starts with recognizing just how strong your dependence on nicotine and tobacco really is. Take the quiz below to see how dependent you may be on nicotine. From there, think about why taking a different approach to quitting might just be the best thing you can do for yourself…

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Fagerström Test

Patients who quit smoking and relapse within two or three weeks usually do so because they want to relieve the withdrawal symptoms that are common when people start to quit. The Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence is a standard instrument for assessing the intensity of the physical addiction to nicotine. The Fagerström test helps doctors and tobacco treatment specialists document the indications for prescribing medication for nicotine withdrawal.  In the version shown below, the language has been modified for American smokers.

A higher Fagerström score indicates a stronger physical dependence (addiction) to nicotine. Higher scores also indicate that treating your withdrawal symptoms, possibly with nicotine replacement therapy, will be an important factor in your quit plan.

1. How soon after you wake up do you smoke your first cigarette?

  • Within 5 minutes        (3 pt)
  • 5 to 30 minutes          (2 pt)
  • 31 to 60 minutes      (1 pt)
  • After 60 minutes        (0 pt)

2. Do you find it difficult not to smoke in places where you shouldn’t, such as in church or school, in a movie, at the library, on a bus, in court or in a hospital?

  • Yes        (1 pt)
  • No        (0 pt)

3. Which cigarette would you most hate to give up which cigarette do you treasure the most?

  • The first one in the morning        (1 pt)
  • Any other one     (0 pt)

4. How many cigarettes do you smoke each day?

  • 10 or fewer        (0 pt)
  • 11 to 20            (1 pt)
  • 21 to 30            (2 pt)
  • 31 or more        (3 pt)

5. Do you smoke more during the first few hours after waking up than during the rest of the day?

  • Yes        (1 pt)
  • No        (0 pt)

6. Do you still smoke if you are so sick that you are in bed most of the day or if you have a cold or the flu and have trouble breathing?

  • Yes        (1 pt)
  • No        (0 pt)

Figure out your total score:________

Your level of dependence on nicotine is:

0-2 Very low dependence
3-4 Low dependence

Scores under 5:

Your level of nicotine dependence is still low. You should act now before your level of dependence increases.

5 Medium dependence

Score of 5: Your level of nicotine dependence is moderate. If you don’t quit soon, your level of dependence on nicotine will increase until you may be seriously addicted. Act now to end your dependence on nicotine.

6-7 High dependence

8-10 Very high dependence

Score over 5: Your level of dependence is high. You aren’t in control of your smoking – it is in control of you! When you make the decision to quit, you may want to talk with your doctor or a tobacco treatment specialist about nicotine replacement therapy or other medications to help you break your addiction.

About UPMC Harrisburg

UPMC Harrisburg is a nationally recognized leader in providing high-quality, patient-centered health care services in south central PA. and surrounding rural communities. UPMC Harrisburg includes seven acute care hospitals and over 160 outpatient clinics and ancillary facilities serving Dauphin, Cumberland, Perry, York, Lancaster, Lebanon, Juniata, Franklin, Adams, and parts of Snyder counties. These locations care for more than 1.2 million area residents yearly, providing life-saving emergency care, essential primary care, and leading-edge diagnostic services. Its cardiovascular program is nationally recognized for its innovation and quality. It also leads the region with its cancer, neurology, transplant, obstetrics-gynecology, maternity care, and orthopaedic programs.

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