Smoking and Quitting Smoking (cont.)

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What is addictive disease and why is smoking considered an addictive disease?

The term addictive disease or addiction describes a persistent habit that is harmful to the person. Thus, addiction is a chronic (long duration) disease with reliance on the substance causing the addiction. The addictive substance also causes the accompanying deterioration of a person's physical and psychological health.

Psychologically, an individual's behavior pattern establishes how the addictive substance is used. One type of behavior is compulsive behavior, which is an overwhelming and irresistible interest in use of the substance. For example, the compulsive addict makes sure that the substance is always available. Another type of behavior is habitual behavior, which is using the substance regularly or occasionally for the desirable effects. Physically, continuous use of the substance leads to dependence on the drug by the body. This dependence means that when the drug is discontinued, symptoms of withdrawal or distress occur.

Nicotine is the component of cigarettes that addicts. Almost immediately upon inhalation, the body responds to the nicotine. An individual feels relaxed, calmer, and happier than before the inhalation. These pleasant feelings reflect the physical side of addiction; but then, not smoking cigarettes causes a craving for more cigarettes, irritability, impatience, anxiety, and other unpleasant symptoms. Indeed, these symptoms are the symptoms of withdrawal from cigarettes. Moreover, with time, more and more nicotine is desired to produce the favorable effects and to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal.

What are the signs of cigarette addiction?

The signs of addiction to cigarettes include:

  • Smoking more than seven cigarettes per day
  • Inhaling deeply and frequently
  • Smoking cigarettes containing nicotine levels more than 0.9mg
  • Smoking within 30 minutes of awakening in the morning
  • Finding it difficult to eliminate the first cigarette in the morning
  • Smoking frequently during the morning
  • Finding it difficult to avoid smoking in smoking-restricted areas
  • Needing to smoke even if sick and in bed
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/20/2013

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