How addicted are you? (2)

In my last comment, I mentioned 3 key questions that can be used to assess how addicted you are, even if you never tried to quit. Of course most smokers have tried to quit more than once, and in New Jersey, more than half of smokers in high school tried to quit in the past year!

In fact it was research on the development of addiction to nicotine in adolescents (by Professor Joe DiFranza at University of Massachusetts Medical School) that led to the development of a useful questionnaire measure of nicotine dependence called “The Hooked On Nicotine Checklist (HONC)”. His research group found that even young people not yet smoking every day already showed symptoms of nicotine addiction, and that answering yes to just one of the questions meant that the person was over 20 times more likely to be smoking regularly years later. The questionnaire consists of 10 simple questions (below) and your score is the number of questions you answer “yes” to.

1. Have you ever tried to quit but couldn't?
2. Do you smoke now because it is really hard to quit?
3. Have you ever felt like you were addicted to tobacco?
4. Do you ever have strong cravings to smoke?
5. Have you ever felt like you really needed a cigarette?
6. Is it hard to keep from smoking in places where you are not supposed to, like school?

In answering the last four questions, when you tried to stopsmoking, or when you have not used tobacco for a while ...

7. Did you find it hard to concentrate?
8. Did you feel more irritable?
9. Did you feel a strong need or urge to smoke?
10. Did you feel nervous, restless or anxious because you couldn't smoke?

If you score zero that means you are probably not addicted to nicotine at all, and giving up smoking should be just a matter of making a decision to quit and getting on with it. Any score above zero indicates some degree of addiction, and a score of 7 or higher is indicative of being highly addicted. The average smoker scores around 7.

The higher your score, the more likely you are to benefit from getting some assistance with your attempt to quit smoking, via a counselor, and including an FDA-approved smoking cessation medicine. Again, getting a core of 10 doesn’t mean its impossible for you to quit. It just needs you’ll need to prepare and to take your quit attempt seriously to have a good chance of success.
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About the Author

MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.