You may think that you can use tobacco without becoming addicted. But the truth is, most teens who use tobacco will get hooked. Three out of four teens who smoke cigarettes in high school will still be smoking as adults.
Nicotine is the chemical found in tobacco products that is responsible for addiction. When you use tobacco, nicotine is quickly absorbed into your body and goes directly to your brain. Nicotine activates areas of the brain that make you feel satisfied and happy. Whether you smoke, vape, or dip, the nicotine you are putting in your body is dangerously addictive and can be harmful to your developing brain.
Nicotine addiction can look different from person to person. Even if you only use tobacco once in a while, you can be addicted and can have a hard time quitting.
Some signs of nicotine addiction include:
- Cravings, or feeling like you really need to use tobacco.
- Going out of your way to get tobacco.
- Feeling anxious or irritable if you want to use tobacco but can’t.
- Continuing to use tobacco because you find it hard to stop.
When you’re addicted to nicotine, you may experience symptoms of nicotine withdrawal after you stop using tobacco. Craving cigarettes, feeling sad or irritable, or having trouble sleeping are some common symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms are usually strongest in the first week after quitting, but they are only temporary.
Nicotine can lead to addiction, which puts you at risk of becoming a lifelong smoker and exposing you to the many harmful chemicals in tobacco. These chemicals cause cancer and harm almost every organ in your body. Teens are especially sensitive to nicotine’s addictive effects because their brains are still developing and this makes it easier to get hooked. Using nicotine at your age can also rewire your brain to become more easily addicted to other drugs.
Nicotine can have other long-lasting effects on your brain development, making it harder for you to concentrate, learn, and control your impulses.