Nicotine and More Addiction Test - Health Risk Assessment

Richard Terry Lovelace, Ph.D., MSW

Winston-Salem, North Carolina USA

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Test for Nicotine Addiction in Yourself or Someone Else

Lifestyle Health Risk Assessment

Richard T. Lovelace, Ph.D., MSW


Addiction hides from us. Even when family or friends are sure we're "hooked," we can absolutely miss realizing it. Why is addiction well worth bringing to light and learning what to do that helps? It is now among the most easily identified causes of preventable death and disability.

People who use nicotine (smoke, dip, chew, patch, lozenge, etc.) often see it as something other than addiction. For instance:

  • "It's a bad habit."
  • "I do it to keep from eating too much."
  • "It helps with stress."
  • "Doing it helps me concentrate."

Some other drugs experts commonly recognize as addicting:

  • alcohol
  • amphetamines
  • barbiturates
  • caffeine
  • codeine
  • crack cocaine
  • heroin
  • methadone
  • morphine
  • opium

Some of what experts usually don't agree are addicting:

  • marijuana
  • sniffing or "huffing" glue, gasoline, etc.
  • abusive relationships
  • sex or pornography
  • shopping
  • extramarital affairs
  • money
  • appearance (looking good)
  • steroids
  • work
  • attention from others
  • worry
  • approval
  • religion
  • watching television
  • overeating
  • cleaning
  • risk taking (adrenaline rush)

How do you determine if you are addicted?

  1. First, type below what drug, substance or activity you associate with your (someone else's) possible addiction. If it's smoking nicotine, then put "smoking."
  2. Then read each of the eight statements in the Addiction Inventory and type either "yes" if the statement is true of you in recent times or "no" if the statement isn't true of you, in recent times.
  3. Avoid leaving any test statements unanswered and avoid putting both "yes" and "no" as your answer to any of the eight statements.
  4. If you are upset by what you tell yourself after you take this inventory, as in, "Oh no, this is terrible! I'm addicted," ... please do contact me.

Note: The statements can be answered the way you believe someone you know very well would answer, if he or she was being frank or up-front. The results can assist you to evaluate whether someone else might be addicted. Only use that evaluation for your own educational purposes. Don't say what you believe to be true to that other person or anyone else, except a qualified health care professional. This lifestyle health risk assessment and all others I know about don't prove the presence of addiction.

Lovelace Addiction Inventory

Possible addiction _

1. "The drug, substance or behavior helps relieve emotional or physical discomfort or it helps lift my (another person's) spirits."

Yes ..... No

2. "If I (another person) stop it (drug, substance or behavior), I (he or she) soon begin to miss or crave it."

Yes ..... No

3. "I used to get a "high" using or doing it . . . but not much any more."

Yes ..... No

4. "Sooner or later, my health is hurt because of it, or I suffer financial difficulty, unhappiness, damaged relationships, legal trouble, uncomfortable moods, stress or job problems."

Yes ..... No

5. "It now takes using or doing more of it than when I started." Example: When someone begins smoking nicotine, he or she might easily smoke two or three cigarettes a day and do that for weeks, months or even years. But over time, daily smoking increased to a pack or more.

Yes ..... No

6. "I'm unable to keep my involvement with it under control. Maybe I do okay for a while, but then it gets to be too much."

Yes ..... No

7. "At least sometimes, I hide my need for it or feel guilty about it."

Yes ..... No

8. "I have tried stopping (or cutting back) to remedy the situation."

Yes ..... No


* © Copyright 1997-05, R. T. Lovelace, Ph.D., MSW. All rights reserved. For your personal use only and not to be printed or used other than for your personal use.

Count how many "yes" answers you gave and put that number here _

What your answers might mean:

  • If you gave fewer than five (5) "yes" answers, that indicates either you aren't addicted or you're in the early stages of addiction.
  • Five or more "yes" responses point to addiction.
  • What can you do to deal with an addiction?

  • With any addiction, it's best to assume we are safe enough when we are entirely free of it. For example, most nicotine addicts and alcoholics go through phases where they, at first, tell themselves that the problem is that they "just overdo" their drug. You often hear statements like, "I know I need to cut back, and I will." Those addicted to alcohol or nicotine who survive ultimately come to the conclusion that any is too much.
  • Once we eliminate the drug, substance or behavior, we take staying free of it in small steps. We promise ourselves to be free of it this hour; then this morning; then this day. We take care of the next block of time only when it gets here.
  • When you "mess up" and use/do again what you're addicted to, you consider that to be a part of a process of getting free, rather than a failure.
  • When you "do" or "use" again what you're addicted to, avoid the "big lie" that says, "Well, I've done it now, I might as well keep on." Doing or using again what we're addicted to is like standing in the middle of a field of very dry grass and, in effect, tossing a lit match into the air. Tell yourself something like, "I tossed a match, but the flame didn't set my field on fire. I'm not going to toss any more matches. I deserve a lot better than to go up in flames!" You might get away with "tossing" one "match," or two or even 200. But if you keep on tossing them, eventually you'll go up in smoke ... full-tilt back to obvious or active addiction.
  • Use affirmations when you are tempted to be involved with what you're addicted to. You can take out a card with our affirmations on it. Read and think about them until the immediate interest or impulse passes. It's nearly impossible to read positive, life and love-affirming statements and maintain an interest in doing something hurtful.
  • Employ relaxation, self-hypnosis or meditation audiotapes. They offer, without doing damage in the process, much of what people get, or hope to get, from what they are addicted to:
    • quick relief from risky upset,
    • a feeling of well-being,
    • temporary escape from worry,
    • more confidence,
    • calm without a reduction in alertness,
    • an ability to think more clearly and solve problems.
  • See our "Simple 7" answer for nicotine addiction.
  • Finally, several self-help groups are available for different substances or behaviors addicted to and are well worth checking into. Some of the best known are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). If you need to know more about such a group and don't know who to call, look in your local telephone directory. If that isn't helpful, contact your area Health Department or Social Services Department. Someone there can tell you what you need to know.
  • Keep firmly in mind that no attitudinal or behavioral inventory or risk assessment (including this one) tells you absolute facts. Such inventories only indicate possibilities for you to consider. When the results make enough sense and are helpful, please use them. If you don't find them useful, ignore the results. This quiz is for educational purposes only. Avoid making significant changes in your work or relationships based on the results. Instead, use what you learn combined with appropriate professional support.

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