Why do some people get addicted to smoking, and others not?

The question pretty much says it all. Some of my friends (including me) will have a cigarette now and then and not need to do it often. Others need to step out to smoke several times in an evening.

Do you need to actually begin a smoking habit to become addicted to it? I can’t picture someone just having their first cigarette and then developing an addiction just from that. (But it has to happen, right?)

I’ve heard about “addictive personalities.” Is that the key to this issue?

I’ve had about 4 or 5 cigarettes in my life and never seen the point. The taste is nothing to write home about, it’s harsh on my throat, and most importantly, I never got the fabled rush everyone talks about. Maybe some people just aren’t affected by nicotine.

I definitely feel the effect of nicotine but I just don’t feel like I need it all the time. I never have. Some people seem to need it all the time.

Many years ago there was another thread on this topic - I’m not even going to search for it, because it was at least 5 or 6 years ago, and I don’t have the time.

There was a guy who replied who claimed to be an MD who specialized in nicotine addiction and research. He claimed that about 5% of the population is not able to become physically addicted to nicotine. Whatever it is about nicotine that makes it addictive just doesn’t effect them.

I’m like you, Argent - I can have a cigarette now and then and have never become addicted. There’s been times in my life where I’d smoke 2-3 nights a week, typically while going out with friends who smoke. But if I buy a pack, it gets stale before I can smoke them all. I’ve never felt like I had to have a cigarette. I suspect I’m one of the few who can’t get addicted, because there’s been plenty of times in my life where I should have gotten hooked, and didn’t.

I don’t think it’s all about addictive personalities. My latest attempt to give up cigarets copllapsed after 10 days. On the other hand, I’m taking medication that makes alcohol use a no-no. I haven’t had a drink in 4 years and have never missed it. And when I stopped using the chemical diversions of my youth, I never missed them either.

I think it’s a combination of “habituation” and some sort of chemical dependence.

I’m now a non-smoker for 10 months (well, Friday will be ten months). I’d tried to quit dozens of times. I finally did, with the use of drugs and patches, and it was even easy (not like the other times).

This doesn’t mean that I’ve not had cigarettes – I think I’ve had fewer than ten in the last ten months. So here’s my experience:

I was severely addicted to nicotine. Until I “quit for good” I still had nicotine in me in diminishing quantities, and my body insisted on replenishing those quantities. It made it impossible for me to quit without the medical help (yeah, I say impossible just 'cos it never worked).

Now, though, I don’t have that physical addiction. I truly can take it or leave it. I hope I’m not coming across as bragging and saying how easy it is, because it was not and I had given myself up to being a smoker for life. The point is, I don’t have the physical additiction anymore, and I guess the psychological need has waned away, too.

But… the ten cigarettes I mentioned? Well, sometimes at social gatherings involving distilled cactus juice, there’s a sense of nostalgia that a cigarette fullfills. But as I’m not addicted to the nicotine, I never have the craving for more (and I never permit myself more than one; I don’t want to re-addict myself by any means).

So, I guess if you smoke seldom enough to not become addicted, you can take it leave it. I’d always hated those types of people when I’d tried to quit! But I’m nicely quit now, so I am one of those people.

I can’t explain it, but I am one of those people that has just never become addicted to smoking.

I’ve smoked off and on for 10 years or so. Sometimes going months and years before picking up a cigarette, sometimes smoking a pack in a weekend.

Currently I’m not smoking much. My husband is trying to quit, so I’m just not smoking since he’s not. Although his goal, or so he says, is to be a social smoker. So we did go out over the weekend and he bought a pack. I smoked 5 or 6 cigarettes. I probably won’t smoke another one for a month or so.

It’s enjoyable to me pretty much only when I am drinking. I’d never just wake up in the morning and light up. It’s actually kind of a gross thought.

It sounds like a lot of people here (higher than 5% anyway) don’t get addicted to nicotine.

I don’t either. I smoked for three or four years full-time, over a pack a day, usually a carton a week. Lucky Strikes. But when I decided to quit (I was tired fo getting bronchitis), I just quit. No agonizing craving for cigarettes. The only time I missed them was watching TV when I was in the habit of smoking one. But otherwise, no big deal.

I don’t think I get addicted easily to anything. Pot never did anything for me. Went through a short coke phase in high school but it was easy to give up when there was no one aroudn to buy it for me. And I periodically quit caffeine just to prove I can.

I smoke occasionally. I have for about 5 years. A few cigarettes a month on average, mostly when I’m around other smokers, so I’ve probably only gone through 5 packs my whole life. While I really enjoy smoking, I’ve never felt like I “needed” a cigarette. I also hate the way I smell afterward, which keeps me from smoking too often.

I read something once about smokers. Those who are nauseated when they smoke their first cigarette(s) are more likely to become addicted, wheres those who smoked their first without a problem are more likely to be occasional smokers (if smokers at all). I’ve surveyed about 15-20 smokers over the years and almost all of them correlated to what I read, including myself. I was miserable after my first cigarette, but after two or three more, I learned to like it…too much. Ended up smoking for 13 years, finally quit about ten years ago.

Cigarette cravings went away after about three weeks, but I still get a little bit of craving for a good cigar now and then.

What about those who weren’t nauseated because they’d been smoking pot for 4 years before they tried their first cigarette?

Myself, I smoke fewer than two cigarettes per week. I had 2 in one night 22 days ago, and then probably 4 the month before. It’s usually only when I’m around other smokers. I also don’t like the way it makes me smell.

I’ve heard something similar, but it was the other way around - those who got sick quickly were less likely to become addicted (maybe because they didn’t bother to cultivate the habit?), those who had no ill effects early on were more likely to become addicted.

Myself, I neither got sick nor got the habit, although for a while I smoked clove cigarettes. Most days I didn’t smoke; on days I smoked I might have gone through one or two during the day. I smoked because I liked the smell and taste of the cloves, and I don’t recall ever feeling like I *needed * a cigarette. If I didn’t have cigarettes on hand, I didn’t feel the need to procure any. If I had them on hand but the time/place wasn’t appropriate, I didn’t get fidgety waiting for my next smoke. When I got a job where none of my co-workers (including the plain tobacco smokers) liked the clove smell, I just stopped. No planning, no withdrawal - it was just something I didn’t do any more. When I moved to a new office a while later, I found the remains of a pack of my cigarettes and tossed it without a second thought.

This is interesting to me because a couple of members of my immediate family have had serious, destructive substance abuse problems (hard drugs and alchohol, with the negative consequences thereof). They both got clean and went into 12-step and therapy at about the same time, and they tried mightily to convince me that I *must * have *some * kind of substance abuse problem because we’re related.