You smoke a cigarette now and then, when you're on a date or hanging out with friends. You have no intention of becoming a "smoker;" it's just for fun, right? Well, you'd be surprised at how an addiction to nicotine, the ingredient in cigarettes that gives a stimulating effect, can creep up on you. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you smoke every day, or almost every day?
- If you don't smoke for a day, do you feel a craving for a cigarette?
- Did you start out by smoking with your friends but now smoke alone?
- Are you gradually smoking more and more cigarettes?
- Are you spending more money than you'd like on cigarettes?
- Do you ever feel like you "need" a cigarette?
- Do you feel anxious if you run out of cigarettes?
- Have you tried to quit smoking and failed?
- Do you ever find yourself lighting up a cigarette almost unconsciously, without really thinking about it?
- Have you ever been surprised at how fast you went through a pack of cigarettes?
- Do you need to have a cigarette first thing in the morning?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you are may already be addicted to nicotine. Talk to a health care professional about strategies for quitting. But whether you're addicted or not, you should try to quit. There are dozens of online programs designed especially for teens who want to quit. For example, there's one that's been designed especially for teens that the Nemours Foundation has created.