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Four Stages of A Smoker's Addiction

Updated on September 27, 2012

Some Facts Beforehand

I feel obligated to indulge in some facts before I dive into the four stages of addiction.  Come along with me for a moment and don't think I'm playing the Sanctimonious Non-Smoker role because I certainly am not.  At the time of writing, I am smoking a red Marlboro seventy-two.

Each craving lasts about 3 to 5 minutes.
Cravings are because of nicotine seeping out of your glands.
Cravings subside totally after approximately 2 weeks.
During and after those 2 weeks, it is recommended you drink a lot of water and brush your teeth because the taste remains in your mouth for those 2 weeks.

Most smokers take up the habit in their mid teens, well before the legal age for purchasing them, and is seen as a rite of passage towards adulthood. Other perceived rights of passage include: aftershave, wearing stilettos, alcohol, drugs and sexual intercourse; with a combination of these sometimes being cited as the main causes of teenage pregnancy.

- 30 Fascinating Cigarette Smoking Facts

1) The Social/Experimental Smoking Stage

For some people, this can be their permanent stage.  For others, it can last 2 to 5 years before progressing to the next stage of smoking.  This stage isn’t quite addiction because it’s part of the Smoker’s Paradigm.  However, it’s a fact that the first hit on a cigarette can literally cause a mild euphoric high that prompts the first-time smoker to try again and again.  That is definitely a hooker.

The experimental stage has many of their own reasons.  The social implications of being cool because of smoking has wore off for the most part with today’s teens and young adults.  My own personal reason was just to try it with a friend and I eventually enjoyed having a cigarette here and there mainly for myself.  I felt embarrassed about it enough to not smoke in public or around my other very conservative, non-smoking friends (whom I shall name Sanctimonious Non-Smokers).  At the time, my then-boyfriend thought I smelled like death.  I lasted 4 years smoking a pack a month or less.

Smokers generally report a variety of after-effects; such as calmness, relaxation, alertness, stimulation, concentration and many others. In fact, smoking will produce a different effect in each individual depending on ‘what they expect to get’; turning the cigarette into the worlds most popular placebo (satisfying the brains hunger for nicotine being the only ‘relaxing’ factor). The smoker will then use these expectations as a means to continue the habit.

- 30 Fascinating Cigarette Smoking Facts

2) The Realization/Addiction Stage

Here is where I introduce the Determined Smoker. That was me, once upon a time. I became braver and, in the face of Sanctimonious Non-Smokers, determined. I had a vice, so sue me. Many have their own vices and their own personal ways of dying. I was determined to enjoy smoking because I really did. It was my own vice and nothing else. However, I didn’t like being dependent.

This is the Realization stage. I had become dependent on cigarettes. I needed a smoke when I woke up and a smoke before I went to bed. I needed a smoke after I had become full from eating and a smoke while I cooked. If I ran out of cigarettes, I panicked. I was smoking a pack a day. At this point, most smokers will smoke a pack or more a day and some will become chain-smokers.

I was hooked, surely and completely. It’s much harder to turn back after this stage. Or better yet, it’s much harder to move forward past it.

3) The Self-Disgust Stage

The Disgusted Smoker.  Yes, indeed, people do reach that stage.  It’s that stage where a smoker like me puff impatiently and without the initial joys of their former smoking days.  It’s no longer about savoring the moment - the smell, the feeling, the taste, and the sensation.

This stage creates the Smoker’s Monster or can be created by it.  That thing that has the insidious voice inside your head, yeah, that’s him or her.  It will talk about things like how you smell bad, look stupid, and going to die young.  It will talk about how you need it, and you need it bad.  The taste turns from a smoky flavor to ashes at the little voice.  That thing provokes the Smoker’s Paradigm all the more.

the sad smoker.
the sad smoker.

4) The Resigned Smoking Stage or the Quitter’s Stage

The final stage can be one of two things, or extend into a fifth stage which is the most obvious stage of all; quitting.  Smokers generally resign themselves to being smokers.  They are dealing with the monsters and paradoxes and all that stuff.  Eventually, four in five smokers will regret their decision.  One out of those five may succeed in becoming an ex-smoker.

The Smoker’s Paradigm

You keep talking about this paradigm. What’s up with that, man?

When you’re in your first two stages, you’re at the point where quitting is easy. And you can do it, because you are simply enjoying the cigarettes. You’re not dependent on them. I’ve successfully quit at this stage for a year. I could go a long time between cigarettes just because I could.

Then, when you pick it back up or continue, it can evolve into a serious addiction. When you regret it and resent it, you suddenly feel like you can’t ever quit. Therein lies the way smokers view their reality. You enjoy it, you can quit. You resent it, you can’t quit.


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    • profile image

      John 3 years ago

      after 2 years of cigarette smoking, i had a history of ashtma attacks and anxiety attacks. constipation dehydration, and acid reflux are other symptoms if you don't eat or drink. ive been on the verge of death a couple times. nows your time to quit. just 2 years destroyed my body

    • profile image

      Fyedkka 5 years ago

      I'm an ex smoker. I used to get ticked off easily as a smoker. .. Now I'm more relaxed and more patient.

    • Sunny Robinson profile image

      Sunny Robinson 7 years ago from Tennessee

      I'm the same way, lorlie6. My current guilt really stems from being around my stepchildren. Your choice is yours alone! :) I don't seem to be ready to quit anytime soon, myself.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Your Smokers Paradigm speaks to me, Sunny. I've been a smoker for oh, 40 years now, and I consider myself a determined smoker. You've truly nailed this, as SognoPiccolo points out.

      Actually, I'd like to extend your concept a bit and say I'm a protectively determined smoker-I smoke with no apologies to anyone! I am protective of my smoking and challenge anybody to try and take it away...crazy, perhaps, but it is a crutch I enjoy and do not intend to quit until I am good and ready.

      I am intelligent enough to understand the risk I take daily, and do resent any attempts by strangers and family alike to 'talk' me out of it. Talking simply doesn't work!

      Fantastic Hub from the point of view of the smoker.

      Thanks and sorry if I sound angry in this comment, I'm not-you just presented this very well-and hit a nerve!

      Great job.

    • SognoPiccolo profile image

      SognoPiccolo 7 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio

      yup yup, been there, done that. You hit the nail on the head.