Nicotine Addiction in Adolescents


Amber Wahab, Staff Writer

I’m sure most people are aware of what nicotine is but if you are not, it is a highly addictive chemical found in tobacco. This chemical is cancer causing, harmful to most of the organs in the human body, and is very common among teens. This is scary in the sense that the teenage brains are still developing which makes it easier for them to get hooked on nicotine. Nicotine use can in a way “rewire” a teens brain to become more easily addicted to other drugs and can also have other long-lasting effects on their brain development. This can lead to trouble concentrating, learning, and controlling their impulses.

The reason behind the addictive nature of tobacco is simple. After one uses tobacco the nicotine from it is almost instantly absorbed into their bloodstream and go straight to their brain. Once the chemical reaches the brain it causes the release of dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Nicotine addiction puts teens at risk of becoming a lifelong smoker and exposes them to the many harmful chemicals in tobacco. Whether it’s cigarettes, vapes, or dip, all contribute to being very harmful to a teenagers developing brain.

A few signs of nicotine addiction is cravings, obsessive tendencies, irritating feelings of anxiety when nicotine is not accessible, and lack of self control. Nicotine addiction is different for everyone, for example, if someone uses tobacco on occasion they may still become addicted, while others may use it more frequently and not get hooked. With that being said, it is important to remember that no matter the case, it is always possible to quit. However, addiction to nicotine may cause symptoms of nicotine withdrawal after attempting to quit. Cravings, depression, or difficulty sleeping are a few typical signs of withdrawal. This phase tends to be the strongest in the first week after quitting, but is only temporary.

With all this being said it may be shocking to know that less high schoolers are addicted to nicotine than in the past few years. Two decades ago 22.4 percent of high school seniors were smoking tobacco daily and now that percentage has been decreased to 3.6 percent. Smoking tobacco through hookah has also decreased 21.4 percent in 2013 to 7.8 percent in the past year, also among high school seniors. As teens may get a bad rep for smoking at least we’re on the right path while the numbers keep declining.


National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Teens Using Vaping Devices in Record Numbers.” NIDA, 17 Dec. 2018,