A lot of smokers don’t know, or perhaps deny that they are addicted to cigarettes. But statistics show that 3 out of 4 people who try to smoke end up addicted to it. The telltale signs of nicotine addiction include the time of the day you start lighting up and how you respond to your smoking urges. According to experts, nicotine addiction has similar pharmacologic and behavioral characteristics to cocaine and heroin addictions.
Here are the signs that you are addicted to smoking:
You reach for a cigarette before anything else in the morning. How soon you light up in the morning is an important indication of nicotine addiction. If you have it five minutes after waking up, your addiction is very strong. If you are able to wait for like 30 minutes, it’s ‘moderate’. If it’s within an hour or so, it is somewhat lower.
You smoke more than 7 cigarettes a day. A lot of smokers don’t count how many cigarettes they smoke on a daily basis. Aside from the number of cigarettes, another way to indicate nicotine addiction is how heavily you inhale the smoke. The thing is, you can consume the same amount of nicotine from 10 cigarettes as you do from 20 cigarettes if you tend to inhale more deeply.
You experience withdrawal symptoms. Many smokers think that they only experience withdrawal symptoms during smoking cessation. But the truth is that they experience it every time, especially during sleep. This is why sleep problems are more common among smokers than non-smokers. It’s just that they suppress the symptoms at the soonest time possible by lighting up again. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms smokers regularly experience when they are not lighting up include irritability, restlessness, depression, persistent cravings for cigarettes, physical sensations (e.g. flu-like symptoms), and interrupted sleep patterns.
You feel the ‘need’ for cigarettes. People who are addicted to nicotine think that they can’t live without cigarettes. They have gotten so used to the habit that it has already become a part of their daily life. So when they try to suppress their cigarette cravings, they experience symptoms of depression and anxiety.
You smoke even when you’re sick. Smokers generally have weaker immune system than non-smokers and there’s no wonder about this. And because of this, they are more likely to get hospitalized than those who don’t smoke. Nevertheless, many smokers still light up even when they are sick, despite advices from their doctors. Even some of those who were diagnosed with cancer won’t still give up the habit.
If you experience all these, you are most probably addicted to smoking. Smoking cessation may be unpleasant for those who have already developed addiction on nicotine. However, it is not as bad as the other forms of drug addiction. The unpleasant symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are greatest at the first few days and weeks and will subside as the body starts to flush out nicotine and recover from its debilitating effects. Eventually, cravings will wane and the smoker’s health would have improved significantly.