Saturday December 10th 2016

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Are cigarettes addictive?

Yes. Cigarettes are addictive.

In fact, the longer you smoke cigarettes, the more likely you are to develop an addiction. Not only are cigarettes addictive but they are the number one contributors to preventable death.  Is nicotine addictive physically?  YES! Don’t underestimate the power of nicotine, the main addictive chemical in tobacco. Nicotine addiction is one of the hardest addictions to kick, as people find themselves relapsing many times.  And while treating nicotine withdrawal can make the process easier, nicotine is considered MORE ADDICTIVE than heroin!

But what makes cigarettes so addictive? And how do you know that you’ve become addicted to cigarettes, or not? We review these questions here and invite your questions about the addictive potential of cigarettes at the end.

What are cigarettes used for?

Cigarettes, or rather, the tobacco found in cigarettes, were once used for ceremonial purposes in many Native American tribes across North America. Besides the ceremonial uses of tobacco, cigarettes are used because people are addicted to them. igarettes produce an instant gratification and a euphoric high. People who miss the next nicotine hit will quickly feel the effects of withdrawal. People also smoke to deal with the stress of their lives, to take breaks at work, or to socialize. And since cigarettes are not illegal, they are heavily used as a coping mechanism for life.

What are cigarettes made of?

Because there are so many different types of cigarettes, the ingredients found in a cigarette can radically change from brand to band. The most common ingredient however is tobacco, a dried plant material that has been shredded and rolled into a cigarette. There are actually 60 known species of this plant. However, in addition to tobacco, there are some several hundred different types of chemicals in cigarettes including; flame retardants, tar, and carcenoginic substances. Filter and paper also go into the manufacturing of cigarettes.

How addictive are cigarettes?

The tobacco in cigarettes naturally contains a substance known as nicotine which accounts for its highly addictive quality. Continued exposure to nicotine results in addiction to cigarettes. Other compounds found in cigarettes like actaldhyl are said to enhance the additive quality of cigarettes. But nicotine has powerful effects on the brain and body, one of which is euphoric effect. So how does nicotine work?

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Nicotine absorbs straight into the bloodstream. Nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands and releases adrenaline into the system. This increase the heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. Nicotine also suppresses insulin output from the pancreases giving smokers higher blood sugar levels. Nicotine also increases the neurotransmission and release of dopamine into the brain, which controls reward and pleasure sensors. This is why each puff from a cigarette can make you feel “good”. The average smoker takes about 300 hits of nicotine in a day.

Cigarette dependence vs. addiction

Nicotine dependence is very similar to nicotine addiction. In fact, the two are difficult to tell apart. But dependence on nicotine is not necessarily the same as addiction. How?

Dependence is a medical term used to define the presence of withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking cigarettes. These symptoms can includeirritability, aggression and anxiety. Dependence happens because the body has adapted to the presence of the nicotine in the body. However, addiction is characterized by a psychological need to continue smoking cigarettes. You may find that you need them to function and regulate your moods. Self-medication of emotional states point to addiction rather than dependence. Though, for the most part nicotine dependence does result in addiction.

How do you get addicted to cigarettes ?

You are not as likely to get addicted to cigarettes if you take one puff from a cigarette or smoke one cigarette. Continual smoking of cigarettes is what develops into addiction. In fact, you have to develop an addiction to cigarettes and make it happen, whether you are conscious or not of it. Ways of getting addicted to cigarettes include:

  • continual use of cigarettes over time
  • giving in to social pressure to smoke
  • self-medicating using cigarettes to cope with stress
  • smoking to look cool or fit in
  • smoking while you drink

Signs of cigarette addiction

Cigarettes are highly habit forming and addictive. Stop smoking motivation tips include seeking other ways to manage your stress. It is easier to spot cigarette addiction than other types of drugs as tobacco is a substance common within our society. You only have to look to the smoker you know to notice the following signs of addiction:

  1. Choosing cigarettes over food
  2. Compulsive smoking without thinking
  3. Continual use of cigarettes regardless of the wide range of health risks or dangers
  4. Feeling agitated or anxious if you haven’t smoked
  5. Needing a smoke to cope with stress and life
  6. The presence of adverse withdrawal symptoms when smoking stops

Cigarettes addiction potential questions

Do you still have questions about the addiction potential of cigarettes ? Please leave your questions, comments or feedback here. We are happy to help answer your questions personally and promptly. And if we do not know the answer to your particular cigarette question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference Sources: National Institute of Drug Abuse: Cigarettes and other Tobacco products
National Insitute of Drug Abuse: Tobacco addiction
NCBI: Can one Puff really make an adolescent addicted?
Surgeon General: Preventing youth tobacco use

Photo credit: New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services

Leave a Reply

2 Responses to “Are cigarettes addictive?
Drug Addict NY
11:30 am October 16th, 2012

Yes, I completely agree with you. A cigarette kills your lungs and reduces your immune power day by day. Nicotine is an addictive ingredient in tobacco products and people become addictive after taking this for long time. I will say that cigarettes are completely addictive and injurious to health.

HLMER
4:00 pm August 4th, 2016

I didn’t understand addiction and “experimented” to see what it’s like. I decided to smoke secretly for one year and eventually got up to about 15-20 cigarettes a day…all in secret (as I live alone).

After one year I decided to end the experiment as I saw that it didn’t take long before I was looking forward to my smoking time at home (one room dedicated to this, and other, activities”. I didn’t even last one day as, within about 2 or 3 hours, all I could think about was how nice it’d be to smoke while using my computer in my smoking room.

I realize it was dumb but I really wanted to feel what it was like. The worst part is that I now have to go it alone in stopping and just the idea of not smoking causes me to smoke more. Also, I’m too embarrassed to admit this to anyone as everyone knows me as a non-smoker as I’ve been very good at hiding it.

I bought patches but they don’t work for me as I have a very strong association with smoking and using my computer in my smoking room. I can spend 6 or more hours there each day, doing computer based work but also smoking at the same time. I even tried moving my computer out of the room, but feel that I must move it back after less than an hour.

Yes, I know, overall a bad decision but at least the secret part stops me from smoking at other parts of the day. But…I almost chain smoke when I work on my computer at home. I’m amazed at it all now but that doesn’t help the immediate situation I’m in now.

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