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Smoking: habit or addiction?

  1. Nov 30, 2014 #1
    What is the initial drive for anyone to light one up? I feel like want to smoke a cigarette in every few hours. Am I addicted to nicotine or is it just a force of habit? When I run out of cigs, I will move mountains to get another packet. I feel I need them so badly and then when I have some and smoked one, I don't really care about them. It's weird.
    What are your thoughts on whether smoking is a habit or an addiction?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 30, 2014 #2


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    It's a learned habit that rapidly becomes an addiction. Later on, it's a combination of the two. I smoked about on average 1 1/2 packs per day of non-filtered for 40 years. When I went on Wellbutrin (Xyban) for my ADD about 15 years ago, it dropped to 2 cigarettes per day with no conscious effort on my part. I'd frequently during the day take 2 or 3 drags, just enough to get the nicotine buzz, and then put it out for later use. The last puff that I took was 10 minutes before I called the paramedics, which was followed by brief death, 4 days in a coma, and 3 weeks in ICU. By the time I awoke from the coma, all nicotine had been purged from my system and I've never had so much as a hint of a craving since.
    I've seen it said several times that nicotine is the second most addictive substance on Earth next to cocaine, but I don't know whether that's medically true or just hyperbole.
    What's really ironic is that I was down to the 2/day stage when I started working at the sign shop. The boss' wife constantly gave me hell for smoking outside when I had a moment free, because she imaginatively claimed that the smoke bothered her inside on the other end of the building.. At the time, I had chronic bronchitis. The emphysema that I contracted to combine with it into full-blown terminal COPD was caused by aromatic hydrocarbons (primarily benzene) to which I was exposed while working in that shop. :rolleyes:
    I can't wait until I see her again so I can rub her nose in it.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2014
  4. Nov 30, 2014 #3
    I have never smoked even once in my life so far. It smells bad, and really worse especially in winter or airtight rooms. I guess you're addicted to it and should get rid of it or you're going to fill up your lungs with things like real dust otherwise.
  5. Nov 30, 2014 #4


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    To me, it sounds like you're addicted.

    If you're surprised when you run out and think, "Ah, I'm out of cigs. Oh well!" -- that may be just a habit. But, if you "will move mountains to get another pack" -- that likely an addiction.

    You don't care about them after you smoke because you have temporarily satisfied your addiction.
  6. Nov 30, 2014 #5


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    I think the medical evidence overwhelmingly supports Danger's statement that it starts as a habit and becomes a serious addiction, which is physiologically VERY hard to get off of. That was certainly my experience.
  7. Nov 30, 2014 #6


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    Pffft. I've quit a dozen times.
  8. Dec 1, 2014 #7
    Haha, this made my day :D
  9. Dec 1, 2014 #8
    Habit refers to the behavior, addiction refers to the pathology.

    You are addicted because you experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop, due to a physical and chemical response, but there is also a learned component to the behavior, and that is what the "habit" is. A behavior can be habitual without being addictive, such as driving to work at the same time every day, but an addiction must by definition be habitual.
  10. Dec 1, 2014 #9


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    Why do you think this is imagined? I can easily smell cigarette smoke leaking through small air gaps, and instantly tell when a smoker enters the room from all the smoke lingering on their clothing. Smokers don't seem to realize this because they lost their sense of smell.
  11. Dec 1, 2014 #10


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    This was a honkin' huge Quonset building full of lacquer-thinner and screen-cleaner fumes, while she was in an office behind a closed door on the other end. A bloodhound couldn't have smelled that tiny bit of smoke from 2 puffs out in the wind. She was either paranoid or flat-out lying.
    And I never lost my sense of smell. I could tell what spices were in food by sniffing it.
  12. Dec 2, 2014 #11
    That could be the case for the majority, but not a pure fact. I haven't lost my sense of smell, but I do acknowledge it's not as offensive to me as others because I'm accustomed to it (my mother smoked in the house all my life, so it's a familiar smell that I'm used to). However, I have no issues smelling anything now (and can even "out smell" non smokers). I see it similar to those who have offensive body odor. Some people don't realize they absolutely smell horrible.

    I also know a girl who loves the smell of smoke, and she's a non smoker. Very odd.

    On topic: OP, I think you described addiction :p I, too, am nicotines *****, but when I'm out, I don't get overly stressed about it and generally wait til morning, or relight butts that still have a drag or 3 left :p

    I've heard the addiction of nicotine is worse than heroin, not coke, but I don't have first hand experience with either (nor do I want it hehe)
  13. Dec 2, 2014 #12


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    There are a couple of weird side-issues in my case. To start with, once I determined that I wouldn't explode, I began letting friends smoke in my house again. I was afraid to for the first year or so that I was on oxygen, but I tried using my gas stove out of desperation once because I had no microwaveable food and found that fire isn't actually my bitter enemy. I love the smell of both tobacco and weed smoke in moderate concentrations, but have no desire to indulge in them myself and don't miss them when they aren't around. Likewise, both of my parents never smoked. When I was in my teens, my mother was about 60 years old. She told me to spark up a cigar that I had received at a wedding because she loved the smell; I had been avoiding it under the impression that it would overpower her even though I smoked cigarettes at home.
    Secondly, I still dream about smoking quite frequently. In each case, I'm still an ex-smoker in the dream but light one up for some reason or other and then immediately put it out and berate myself for being so stupid. Of course, in my dreams I'm as healthy as I was in my 30's and my parents are still alive, so I don't know what the hell that's about.
  14. Jan 28, 2015 #13
    Fell ill somewhere last December, during and after which I have not smoked a single cigarette, not a puff. I have been off of nicotine easily for a month and half by now. Should I start celebrating? I don't feel like I need to smoke anymore. It feels great.
  15. Jan 28, 2015 #14


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    That's the way I stopped; getting really ill (from smoking all night while surfing internet). If you can maintain for 2 years, maybe then celebrate. Seriously.
  16. Jan 29, 2015 #15
  17. Jan 29, 2015 #16

    Quantum Defect

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    Bob Newhart has a funny monologue about the discovery of tobacco.

  18. Jan 29, 2015 #17


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    Nicotine is addictive. It works on nicotinic acetyolcholine receptors in your brain and eventually leads to Delta FosB accumulation in the nucleus accumbens, which is basically a master switch in most forms of addiction.
  19. Feb 4, 2015 #18
    Read the excellent book "easy way to give up smoking" by Allen Carr - his no nonsense unravelling of the "nicotine" trap will make you give up ( assuming you want to!?

    Yes nicotine IS addictive - BUT it is a tiny part of the trap - 99% is psychological - once you understand this it's "addictive power" is close to zero. Always there however - once an addict always an addict - the " hole" that smoking filled is still there - but it's easy peasy to ignore!
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