How Long Does It Take To Get Addicted To Nicotine?

February 18, 2018

Jelly Bell

How Long Does It Take To Get Addicted To Nicotine?

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Everything starts with the very first stick of cigarette. You told yourself you would just try it this one time, but at some point, you realize that you have already been addicted to it. So which stick of cigarette makes you addicted exactly? Or how long does it take to get addicted to nicotine– the main active ingredient in tobacco- so that you can know when to stop? The answer is right here.

Why is nicotine so addictive?

Despite smoking’s bad press and all the efforts of the government to prevent smoking, there are still about one billion smokers and 7 million deaths a year caused by smoking around the world. The culprit here is nicotine- the main active ingredient in tobacco. Nicotine itself is not a lethal compound to human, but it is highly addictive which make people can’t stop smoking and inhaling multiple other toxins in cigarettes. So why nicotine is so highly addictive?

Nicotine activates reward circuit in human’s brain

It takes only 10 seconds for nicotine to get to brain cells. After reaching the brain, nicotine brings pleasure to smokers by causing a transient rise in endorphins level – neurochemicals that are responsible for relieving pain and stress.

The surge is much briefer than other addictive substances like heroin or cocaine, but the rule of developing addict is the same. After nicotine kicks in, it releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine in reward circuit. This neurotransmitter will reinforce the action and make smokers seek nicotine again and again to get the “reward.”

Second of all, tobacco is more acceptable socially: in comparison to other illicit addictive substances like marijuana, heroin or cocaine cigarette is legal all around the world. Despite the utmost effort of the government, tobacco is still much cheaper than those drugs, and you can buy a pack of cigarettes from any stores.

How long does it take to get addicted to nicotine compared to heroin or cocaine? It may take longer to get addicted to nicotine as the effect of heroin or cocaine on the brain is stronger, but it will be much more difficult to quit it as you can satisfy your craving so easily.

nicotine so addictive
Nicotine is so addictive

Withdrawal symptoms make it hard to give up

After stop taking nicotine, it may take a few time for nicotine to be entirely washed away from your body. During that time, the decrease of nicotine level in your body will result in withdrawal symptoms like irritable, anxiety, depression, nausea and so on. These symptoms will torture smokers until they absorb nicotine again.

So how long does it take to fully eliminate nicotine from your body so that withdrawal symptoms can be relieved? Click these articles to find out HOW LONG DOES NICOTINE STAY IN YOUR  SYSTEM, HOW LONG DOES NICOTINE STAY IN YOUR BLOOD, and HOW LONG DOES NICOTINE STAY IN YOUR SALIVA.

How long does it take to get addicted to nicotine?

In fact, there is no precise number for you. One person can become addicted by just one breath of cigarettes, but others can smoke a pack of cigarettes without and then stop smoking without experiencing any withdrawal symptoms. However, to answer the question how long does it take to get addicted to nicotine, we have listed four primary factors so that you can base on to estimate the needed time. Let’s see:

1. Environment

First of all, you need to know what “environment” actually means in this case. Normally, we will immediately refer “environment” to circumstances or conditions surrounding us. Roughly explained, it is everything around us like nature, people, and stuff. However, as a factor that affects how long does it take to get addicted to nicotine, researchers have divided environment into four domains: the family domain, the friend domain, the work and school domain and the community domain:

The family domain

Family plays an important role in developing nicotine addiction and the withdraw process of a smoker both biologically (which we will talk about later) and psychologically.

  Home management problems, family conflict or domestic abuse, increase the risk of nicotine, drug or alcohol addiction. The stress from that kind of events can trigger smoking habits to relieve stress and anxiety. The dependence rate will be even higher if a person has to experience that at a younger age as they don’t know how to deal with such issues and addiction also is easier to form.

On the other hand, if parents already have a smoking problem themselves, their children will be more likely to smoke and become addicted to nicotine sooner. Parents are usually their kids’role model, so it is easy to understand why children will tend to imitate their parents’ actions.

The family domain also correlates with the recovery of a smoker. The most difficult part of quitting smoking is to overcome many withdrawal symptoms like irritates, insomnia or nausea. With family’s support, a smoker will not only be more motivated to stop smoking but also have more courage to undergo all those terrible symptoms. Love makes the process less suffocating.

The peer domain

Friends, just like family, play a central role in affecting how long does it take to get addicted to nicotine. Besides family membership, peer relationship can shape people’s character and behavior as well.

This factor is significant especially among teenagers since the peer pressure, and changes of hormone during puberty make adolescents are prone to take risks and try new thing from the invitation of their friends, including smoking. On the other hand, early smoking will be more likely to develop into addiction which we will see why in the next section.

peer pressure
Peer pressure

However, on the bright side,  friends can also prevent nicotine addiction at first hand and bring benefits to the recovery of a smoker. A good friend is able to provide help and care during withdrawal process and motivate an addict to go through the difficult time. Moreover, if a smoker is trying to quit, they can also make friends with others who have the same goal so that they can relate, support each other and give some advice when it’s needed.

The work and school domain

This domain usually does not contribute as much as family or peer domain in developing nicotine addict problem. While friendship starts from similarities in personality, point of view or hobby, school or workplace consist of a bunch of people from different background and character; it is hard to say how they really affect you. But in some case, this factor may become a principal influence.

The main problem here comes from the pressure of making friends in the new environment or having to establish rapport to sign a contract. The same behavior or hobby can help you feel more comfortable to make a conversation and get closer to somebody; smoking is no exception.

The addiction risk may also come from the stress from work, the burden of getting a high score or sometimes even worse: from being bullied. Getting the trick from a stick of cigarette appears to be the solution to all the stress as teenagers usually don’t know how to solve the situation that they have to deal.

The community domain

Community is one of the crucial factors that modify how long does it take to get addicted to nicotine. However, to what extent community impact your smoking behavior depends greatly on your will and how much you involve in your community. For example, a person who lives in a neighborhood full of smokers but barely speak to any of them we will not adopt that behavior and become addicted.

However, you may ask: “If I inhale cigarette’s fume as a passive smoker, will I absorb nicotine and become addicted?”. To answer this question, click here to see DOES SECOND-HAND SMOKE SHOW UP ON DRUG TEST and in case it does, HOW LONG DOES SECONDHAND SMOKE STAY IN YOUR SYSTEM?

  On the other side, a good community can aid the smoker in quitting smoking. A person who lives in either an environment full of trying-to-quit nicotine addicts or a friendly, supporting neighborhood can quit smoking quicker and have a lower rate of relapse after successfully giving up. The reason is that loneliness, boredom or depression are negative feelings that can trigger smoking action as nicotine bring temporary sedative and relaxing effects to the brain.

2. Age

Research in the USA has found that nine out of ten smokers start smoking by the age of 18 and 99% of them smoke before reaching 26. [1]Nicotine abuse usually begin from the young age which makes adolescent time is the most vulnerable period of developing an addiction. But why?

Teenagers are more of risk-takers

Human brains have not fully developed until the mid-20s. Because differentiated neurons do not divide after a kid was born, the brain development here is about the creation of myelin – an electrical insulation layer surrounds brain cells. Without myelin, brain cells may not function properly. During adolescence, teenagers’ brains are still in the process of maturation, reconstruction and the last region that is fully developed is prefrontal cortex [2].

The prefrontal cortex, on the other hand, is responsible for decision making, personal expression judgment, and moderating social behavior[3]. Because of the immature of this region, teenagers may fail to control their impulse or consider the consequences of their actions. Combining with the environmental factor that we discussed above, teenagers are more likely to take risks and try new things including smoking cigarettes.

From trying to addict

How long does it take to get addicted to nicotine with teenagers? It usually takes less time than adults. Nicotine brings pleasure feeling to your body so it will activate a reward circuit in human’s brain. With teenagers, because their nervous system is still developing, the connections between brain cells are incomplete, this nicotine-triggered circuit is more easily build and strengthened.

In simpler words, because their brains are not fully mature, they learn new thing faster, remember things longer, and addiction is that “new thing” in this case. That’s why teenagers are more easily addicted to nicotine; they tend to have addiction in the longer term and feel harder to quit smoking in comparison to adults.

3. Gender

Smoking is destructive for both males and females but the answer to the question “how long does it take to get addicted to nicotine” is different between them.  Even though more men are nicotine addicted than women, women become addicted faster after the initiation of substance use [4].

The cause of the difference between the portion of male and female addicts is because men can experience cigarette sooner. A teenage boy has more opportunity to expose to nicotine in their peer group in comparison to a teenage girl. Besides, the prejudice towards female smoker( especially in Asia) also makes women feel reluctant to buy a pack of cigarettes themselves.

Even though the ratio between two sexes is still high, the gender gap has been narrowed down these days in some countries [5]. The reason may come from the marketing strategy of tobacco brands towards women with an image of a cool female smoker as an embodiment of beauty, feminist and freedom.

Unfortunately, women are more susceptible to addiction than men when they have the chance to experience nicotine.

Women, basically tend to get stressed more often. Biologically, the fluctuation of hormones during menstrual cycles and the sensitivity to pain is one of the cause. Socially, women will have to go through a lot of gender discrimination and burdens of taking good care of their family. They also have the higher rate of being exposed to domestic violence, incest, sexual abuse more often than men and be more vulnerable to a stressful or traumatizing situation.

While men are more likely to seek for tobacco when presented with nicotine-related cues, women seem to need stimulants the most when there have to undergo stressful time [6]. Because of that, they will get addicted to nicotine easier than men.

Also, women are more vulnerable to the consequences of smoking as a female smoker is more likely to get lung cancer or heart attack compared to male. The reason is unclear, but the differences in brain activity and estrogen are suspected to be the culprit.

4. Genes

Family can affect how long does it take to get addicted to nicotine both socially and biologically. And by saying “genes” here, it doesn’t mean you will be born addicted; it just implies that you feel harder to quit once you first try it or have more severe withdrawal symptoms than others when you want to quit if any of your family members are addicted to nicotine.

There is no single “addiction” gene

Besides, since the reason of addiction comes from both environmental and inherited factors, it’s hard to tell which is the main contribution here. They can either mutually exclusive or add up to make a person more vulnerable to become addicted. That’s why finding addiction gene is very complicated work.

However, many researchers have proved the impact of genes on developing an addiction. By investigating pedigrees of multiple large families, it is true that nicotine dependence can pass down from generation [7].

Researchers have been making efforts to look for a piece of DNA  that is not common in “clean” members shared among affected family members. But as forming addiction is greatly impacted by the environment, they have only been successfully found those kinds of genes in animals.

How to stop nicotine addiction?

Addiction to smoking will not only bring multiple health effects but also affect your budget, lifestyle, and occupation.

First of all, don’t smoke

Set a list of more important things in life that has been affected by your smoking habits to make yourself more determined to quit smoking. For example, you can’t take care of your family more properly because a thousand of dollars a year have been threw from your account to pay for cigarettes or your beloved family can become a victim of second-hand smoking – cause of nearly 1 million deaths every year [5].

dont smoke
Don’t smoke to stop getting addicted to nicotine

The longer tobacco stays in your system, the more serious consequences it can bring to your health. To prevent bad health effects caused by smoking, take a look at this article to find out “HOW LONG DOES TOBACCO STAY IN YOUR SYSTEM.”

If you haven’t tried that stick of dead, never try it then. Some people may stop after their first try; some may develop an addiction. How long does it take to get addicted to nicotine? You should never try it to find out.

Flush out nicotine from your body

When you stop smoking for a few hours, the nicotine left in your blood will make you crave for more cigarettes. For a new smoker, it may take only a day or two to get rid of nicotine from your system, but with a heavy smoker, nicotine can accumulate in body’s tissues, and the process may take a year( if they can stay away from nicotine that long of course).

 Proper food intake is a good choice to aid nicotine elimination and ease withdrawal symptoms effectively. If you want to know, click TOP 12 FOODS THAT WILL FLUSH OUT NICOTINE FROM YOUR BODY to find out! However, there are still plenty methods to boost the nicotine elimination process even more. If you are curious, click this article to know the full guide on HOW TO GET NICOTINE OUT FROM YOUR SYSTEM!

Try to live in a healthy environment

Environment is a central contribution to adjust how long does it take to get addicted to nicotine. Try to shift to a “cleaner” community or seek for help from friends, family to get some help and advice when you are feeling stress to prevent you from smoking. If you are trying to stay away from tobacco, it is also a good choice to make friends with people who have the same goal with you.

Genetic treatment

Even though the genes responsible for addiction haven’t been found in human, you should still remember that addiction can run in your family, so you need to be more careful if any of your family members are addicted. In the future, hopefully, genetic therapy can become a new pathway in helping an addict quit smoking. By finding the gene product that contributes the most in forming addiction, doctors can make a drug that adjusts it activity and restore brain function to normal.

Main points on how long does it take to get addicted to nicotine

1. Why nicotine is addicted

It activates reward circuit in your brain which will make your body crave for more after using it. Moreover, the acceptance of tobacco from society and withdrawal symptoms if smokers try to quit also contribute to the high rate of developing nicotine addiction.

2. How long does it take to get addicted to nicotine?

There is no a precise number but can you estimate it by considering those factors:

  • Environment
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Genes

3. How to stop addiction

  • Flush out nicotine from your body
  • Try to live in a healthy environment
  • Genetic treatment in the future

In conclusion

That’s all! I hope the answer to the question “how long does it take to get addicted to nicotine” has been presented clearly and in detail. If you want to know more knowledge like this every day, please sign up for our newsletter. If you like this article, please share it on your page and get us a thumbs up on our Facebook page as well!

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