Teen Smoking Addiction

This article includes: statistics on teen smoking addiction, reasons teenagers smoke, health issues associated with teen smoking addiction, and tips on overcoming tobacco addictions. Keep reading for information on teen tobacco use, abuse, addiction, and treatment.

One of the most difficult habits to break is smoking. This is because there are psychological factors involved as well as the physical addiction to the nicotine in cigarettes. Teen smoking addiction is especially troubling because not only are there health concerns, but smoking is illegal for those under the age of 18. It would be nice if that were a deterrent, but it’s not; teens often find that the allure of doing something illegal and dangerous outweighs more practical concerns related to health and legality.

Addressing teen smoking addiction is important, since 80% of all adults smoking now actually started as teenagers. Many try cigarettes for the first time in sixth grade or seventh grade. On top of this, cigarettes can lead to more substance abuse. There is a strong link between teen smoking addiction and illegal alcohol drinking behaviors. Also, those who begin smoking between the ages of 13 and 17 are more likely to become involved with illicit drugs than non-smokers.

Why do teenagers smoke?

Many of the reasons that teens smoke have to do with social interactions. A teenager can feel older by smoking, or think that he or she is different from the others. Smoking can be a badge of honor, showing everyone how different a teen is. At the same time, it allows the teen to project the image of a rebel - someone who lives on the edge of danger. Long-term health concerns don’t usually come into the picture, since those considerations seem a long way off. The mystique associated with smoking is immediate.

Another social aspect of smoking is the fact that teenagers do it in groups. Smokers tend to congregate, and this can make them feel as though they are part of an elite group. Even if they know they are ostracized, there is camaraderie in being outcasts together. Teens can share the thrill of doing something illegal as they try to avoid being caught, and feel as though they are with people who understand them. However, most teens do not consider the social consequences of smoking.

Health issues associated with teen smoking addiction

As you know, there are a number of health issues associated with teen smoking addiction. Smoking is an addiction, so the body comes to rely on having the chemicals - especially nicotine - to help with normal function. However, the body can build a tolerance to the drug, so that more and more of the substance is needed for the same effect. This is how chain smoking develops as a habit.

Other health effects that smoking can have on teenagers include:

  • Increased chance of heart disease.
  • Increased chance of lung cancer.
  • Increased chance of oral cancer.
  • Respiratory problems.
  • Loss of appetite.

When a teenager does not have access to cigarettes, he or she may become anxious and jittery, having difficulty concentrating and focusing on a task. Irritability is another problem, and when a teen smoking addiction is combined with the hormonal changes happening in a body, a teenager can behave even more irrationally than normal.

Overcoming teen smoking addiction

Overcoming a teen smoking addiction can be very difficult. Some teens attempt to go cold turkey, just quitting outright. However, this can be very difficult, since cravings are strong. Others try to use nicotine patches and gum in order to help assuage the physical symptoms of withdrawal. However, in some cases they miss the social aspects of smoking and the psychologically pleasing aspects. This can lead to relapse in an effort to regain this feeling.

Some feel that the most effective way to treat a smoking addiction is to combine the use of pharmacological means, such as nicotine patches and gum (in which the dosage is gradually stepped down), with behavior modification. Behavior modification teaches teenagers techniques for taking their minds off the cigarettes and what they are missing. It focuses on replacing the bad habits with healthier behaviors. This can include chewing gum when a craving comes on, or going for a walk. Teens normally need supportive friends and family to help them quit smoking, providing support and being available for positive activities.

It is important to note that cravings for cigarettes can last for years after someone has stopped smoking. It is always difficult to kick this habit, so if your teenager shows signs of wanting to stop, it is important that you be available and supportive.

Related Article: Causes of Teenage Smoking >>