No, really, how long does it take to get addicted to cigarettes? I have been asked this a couple of times. Our planet, as of 2018, had 7.5 billion people. Out of that population, there are over 1.2 billion smokers around the globe. This figure shows that many people are really into smoking, and a couple of them are already addicted to taking it.
Now let’s find out how long it takes for one to get addicted to cigarettes. The point you need to know is that one can get hooked on a cigarette without heavy smoking or taking it for years. In the past, researchers used to believe that it takes 1 to 2 years to become addicted. Now, the story is different. Again, people differ, so is the rate at which they become addicted to smoking cigarettes. Research work published in the British Medical Association journal, Tobacco Control, shows 12 and 13 years olds become addicted within days of inhaling their first smoke. Most people can take longer or shorter; it all depends on the individual. But the bottom line is that cigarette is highly addictive.
Why Do People Get Addicted To Cigarettes?
Take a look at the number of people smoking over and over again. You will be forced to think that smoking has massive benefits. Even the manufacturers warn that “smokers are liable to die young.” And yet, people are mad about it.
Many people cannot live without smoking cigarettes in a day. They have been so addicted to it that they believe it’s what’s keeping them alive. Now let me shock you a bit; do you know tobacco is one of the leading causes of diseases and deaths in the United States of America?
Cigarettes alone account for more than 480,000 premature deaths in the country, talking about the USA. That’s about 1,300 deaths daily, which is quite a considerable number for something that is highly preventable.
Now let’s go back to the question. Why are people madly in love with cigarette smoking? Why is it that despite all the warnings, many remain hooked? The simple answer is nicotine.
Nicotine is a chemical in tobacco that causes this addiction. It doesn’t deliver the kind of euphoria that the likes of opioids and marijuana gives. However, people smoking cigarettes never get high. The short-term reward nicotine can reinforce, is what drives over 480,000 people to an early grave.
Here Is What Nicotine Does To The Brain
Have you ever sat down for a while to think about why nicotine is super reinforcing? If you haven’t, I am happy you are here. I will share something about nicotine, which every addicted smoker and those anticipating it should know.
Now here is something you should know about nicotine. It’s not as intensely rewarding as many other drugs out there. By drugs, I mean substances that people abuse. But here is the thing; nicotine stimulates and encourages the release of dopamine in neurons connecting several regions of the brain.
Some of these regions include the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and others. Now the dopamine in which the nicotine in tobacco releases is not that high when compared to what other drugs do.
What makes it all the more devastating is the fact that the dopamine signal released is incredible at teaching the brain to repeat the act. That’s why people usually have the addiction or will to continue taking the drug. When a smoker becomes addicted to smoking, the brain learns to smoke and do so repeatedly.
Another thing that makes people get addicted to smoking and have difficulty quitting is because smoking enhances and prolongs the pleasure derived from other activities.
Researchers have also discovered that nicotine enhances the pleasure derived from visual (video) stimuli, including music. The research on the influence of nicotine also showed that it lowers the speed at which smokers become bored while watching visual contents.
Why Individuals Addicted To Smoking Are Having Difficulty Quitting
Nicotine withdrawal isn’t an easy thing. But with massive effort and the mind made up, one can quit smoking for good. Let’s take a bicycle, for example. It takes a bit of time and constant practice to learn how to ride one.
Now, here is a simple question; can you unlearn how to ride a bicycle after spending years riding one? A difficult question, isn’t it? That’s what nicotine does to the brain. It teaches the brain to cherish smoking. That’s what pushes people to smoke. They have experienced short-term pleasure and feel they need to consume more sticks to continue enjoying it.
However, there is a lot of science behind why people have difficulty saying goodbyes to smoking. But millions of people have summoned the courage and achieved it. So you too can become an ex-smoker, trust me.
Addicted To Smoking: The Top Drugs Considered Most Addictive
For many years, researchers have been busy trying to figure out the most addictive drugs in the world. Factors they used to determine the addictiveness of these drugs is how their users tolerate them after repeated use. Another factor is how grave the withdrawal symptoms of the drugs are.
Without much ado, here is the list of the world’s most addictive drugs ranked from first to last, and where smoking (tobacco) stands.
This drug comes rated the highest in the list of addictive drugs for obvious reasons. The withdrawal symptoms are grave. It also takes guts to tolerate it. An extract gotten from the opium poppy plant, heroin is taken differently.
It can be injected into the vein, smoked, or swallowed like regular pills. It can cause respiratory depression, nausea drowsiness, and a whole lot.
Cocaine ranks as the second most addictive drug on this list. It is taken differently, too. Most people snort it, smoke, inject into their vein, or rob in their gum to get high. A couple of persons even mix cocaine and heroin, a combination which is popularly called speedball.
I have already provided quite an elaborate description of nicotine. So, there is no need going deeper into it here. Nicotine is present in various tobacco products. These include cigarettes, cigars, kreteks, and hookah products. It also ranks as the third most addictive drugs out there.
4. Street methadone
Methadone ranks as the fourth most addictive drug on this list. It will also please you to know that this drug is used for a specific treatment, and patients don’t react negatively to it. But when abused or misused, it can become a problem. The effect can be hallucination, lightheadedness, or addiction.
Our bone of contention is cigarette smoking. But it is also good looking at other drugs that cause huge problems in our society today. Many people are chain smokers. And even with all the red lights and warnings, they still won’t quit.
Next, are the dangers of smoking! What are smokers liable to deal with in no distant time, health-wise following their addiction to cigarettes?
The Dangers Of Being Addicted To Smoking
Everyone prays to live longer. No one likes to die young. But then, the number of years one lives is a factor of lifestyle and other decisions. Now back to business! Being addicted to smoking can negatively affect one’s life.
Smoking can affect every organ in the body, and even give rise to life-threatening diseases. However, if you can quite now and start a new chapter, you will automatically boost your health and increase your lifespan.
1. Causes death
Millions of people lose their lives each day to smoking. And as a matter of fact, over 480,000 cigarette-related deaths are recorded yearly. Cigarette, as claimed, has caused more deaths than alcohol, HIV, and fire-arm related crimes, combined.
2. Increased health risk
Let me be plain and straightforward here. Non-smokers can still develop health risks. But here is the thing; smoking kind of triples one’s chances of developing diverse diseases. Smokers are more likely to develop lung cancer, stroke, and heart disease faster.
3. Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
Being a smoker exposes one to a higher risk of developing diseases known to affect the blood vessels and heart.
Just so you know, smoking is one of the significant factors that cause coronary diseases and stroke, which serve as one of the deadliest diseases in the world. These conditions are also the major causes of death in the United States of America.
4. Ability to cause cancer
Cancer is one of the many diseases that claim millions of lives each year. Now guess what, smoking is one of the major factors that contribute to this disease.
The scary thing about smoking is that it can lead to cancer anywhere in the body. Be it the lung, bladder, colon, esophagus, rectum, cervix, liver, pancreas, stomach, and others.
5. Difficulty in conceiving
Women that smoke may find it harder to get pregnant. Even when one manages to, smoking can affect the baby’s wellbeing before or after he or she is born. It also increases the risk of various conditions experienced by pregnant women.
Some of the conditions include ectopic pregnancy, low birth weight, and stillbirth (death of the baby before being born into this world).
6. Low fertility in men
Yes, smoking has been proven to affect the fertility of male folks. It also contributes to increased risk of miscarriages in women and several congenital disabilities too.
7. Affects the health of the gums and teeth
Smoking can severely affect the health of one’s gum and teeth. Look carefully. You will discover that most smokers have discolored or dark teeth because of too much intake of tobacco.
Smoking also damages the gum. It increases the risk of tooth loss, which many of us wouldn’t like.
8. Drastically affects bone health
Put quickly; researchers have been able to figure out that smokers have a massive effect on one’s bone. Women who have gone past childbearing age and smokes have weaker bones than those who don’t smoke.
9. Causes diabetes
Smoking is also one of the factors that cause type II diabetes. But that is not all. It also makes it super difficult for people who have this condition to control.
In short, the risk of developing this disease is higher in active smokers than people who don’t smoke.
How To Stop Being Addicted To A Cigarette: Putting An End To Cigarette Use
You have just taken the bold step to quit smoking. Bravo! You have got some courage; trust me. The first day and the days after might be the most difficult periods of your life.
But if you hold still, believe in yourself, and apply some essential tips, you will surely overcome.
Here are ideas to keep you going:
1. Create a quit plan
How do you intend to quit this addictive act? Think about a full proof plan and write it down. You can search the internet or seek help from people who have walked the same path. They will help you create a quit plan.
2. Adhere to your quit plan
Now that you have your quit plan drafted out to ensure you do not deviate from it. You can revisit your plan daily to remind yourself of the process you have drafted out.
3. Seek help
Most people believe having strong willpower can help them quite. But here is the truth, my friend. Relying on that might not be easy because of how strong nicotine is.
So get support wherever you can. Talk to positive individuals, as in people you respect. You can also have chitchat with a quit smoking counselor to help you overcome this addiction.
4. Keep yourself super busy
An idle mind will make it harder to handle the cravings that will greet you on your quit day. So, don’t give room for that to happen. Think of activities you can do to keep yourself busy.
Examples include exercising, chewing gum, watch movies, and drink a lot of water, take a walk, and keep your hands busy all day. The list is long. Just do something that will make your mind off smoking.
You should also stay away from friends or places that remind you of this act. Keep your distances. Otherwise, you may find yourself going back to this act.
I hope you have found the right answer to the question; how long does it take to get addicted to cigarettes? You can read the beginning of this post to refresh the answer in your memory. The thing is it takes different time for people to get addicted to this act. Some get addicted to cigarettes, starting from their first smoke. Others might take months or years to get to that level.