Why Is Quitting So Hard
We all know the health risks of smoking, but that doesnt make it any easier to kick the habit. Whether youre an occasional teen smoker or a lifetime pack-a-day smoker, quitting can be really tough.
Smoking tobacco is both a physical addiction and a psychological habit. The nicotine from cigarettes provides a temporaryand addictivehigh. Eliminating that regular fix of nicotine causes your body to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Because of nicotines feel good effect on the brain, you may turn to cigarettes as a quick and reliable way to boost your outlook, relieve stress, and unwind. Smoking can also be a way of coping with depression, anxiety, or even boredom. Quitting means finding different, healthier ways to cope with those feelings.
Smoking is also ingrained as a daily ritual. It may be an automatic response for you to smoke a cigarette with your morning coffee, while taking a break at work or school, or on your commute home at the end of a hectic day. Or maybe your friends, family, or colleagues smoke, and its become part of the way you relate with them.
To successfully stop smoking, youll need to address both the addiction and the habits and routines that go along with it. But it can be done. With the right support and quit plan, any smoker can kick the addictioneven if youve tried and failed multiple times before.
What Does Nicotine Addiction Look Like
Nicotine addiction can look different from person to person. Even if you only use tobacco once in a while, you can be addicted and can have a hard time quitting.
Some signs of nicotine addiction include:
- Cravings, or feeling like you really need to use tobacco.
- Going out of your way to get tobacco.
- Feeling anxious or irritable if you want to use tobacco but cant.
- Continuing to use tobacco because you find it hard to stop.
When youre addicted to nicotine, you may experience symptoms of nicotine withdrawal after you stop using tobacco. Craving cigarettes, feeling sad or irritable, or having trouble sleeping are some common symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms are usually strongest in the first week after quitting, but they are only temporary.
What Are The Immediate Health Benefits Of Quitting Smoking
The immediate health benefits of quitting smoking are substantial:
- Heart rate and blood pressure, which are abnormally high while smoking, begin to return to normal.
- Within a few hours, the level of carbon monoxide in the blood begins to decline.
- Within a few weeks, people who quit smoking have improved circulation, produce less phlegm, and dont cough or wheeze as often.
- Within several months of quitting, people can expect substantial improvements in lung function .
- Within a few years of quitting, people will have lower risks of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases than if they had continued to smoke.
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What Makes Tobacco Use Harmful
Nicotine is what keeps people using tobacco products. However, its the thousands of chemicals contained in tobacco and tobacco smoke that make tobacco use so deadly.
This toxic mix of chemicalsnot nicotinecause the serious health effects among those who use tobacco products, including fatal lung diseases, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer.3
Tobacco products containing nicotine pose different levels of health risk to adult users. Combustible products, or products that burn tobacco, are the most harmful. An example of a combustible product is cigarettes, which deliver more than 7,000 chemicals1 along with nicotine that makes it hard to quit.
FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies , such as gums and lozenges, are the least harmful. Noncombustible products, such as heat-not-burn tobacco products and e-cigarettes, fall somewhere in between combustible products and NRTs.
If youre an adult and dont use tobacco products, we strongly encourage you to stay tobacco-free. If youre an adult who currently uses tobacco products, there are resources to help you quit.
To learn about the additional harms tobacco can have on young people and their developing brains, read Why Cant My Teen Quit Smoking or Vaping?
What Is The Outlook For Tobacco And Nicotine Addiction
Tobacco addiction can be managed with proper treatment. Addiction to tobacco is similar to other drug addictions in that its never really cured. In other words, it is something that you will have to deal with for the rest of your life.
Tobacco users tend to have high relapse rates. Its estimated that about 75 percent of people who quit smoking relapse within the first six months. A longer treatment period or change in approach may prevent a future relapse.
Research has also shown that altering lifestyle habits, such as avoiding situations where there will be other tobacco users or implementing a positive behavior when cravings start can help improve chances for recovery.
A tobacco addiction can have fatal consequences without treatment. Tobacco use can cause:
- cancers of the lungs, throat, and mouth
- heart disease
- chronic lung diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis
Any one of these conditions can be fatal. Quitting smoking or tobacco use can significantly reduce the risk of death due to these diseases. Even once the disease has been diagnosed, stopping tobacco use can improve treatment efforts.
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Tobacco Nicotine And E
Yes. Most smokers use tobacco regularly because they are addicted to nicotine. Addiction is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and use, even in the face of negative health consequences. The majority of smokers would like to stop smoking, and each year about half try to quit permanently. Yet, only about 6 percent of smokers are able to quit in a given year.25 Most smokers will need to make multiple attempts before they are able to quit permanently.22 Medications including varenicline, and some antidepressants , and nicotine-replacement therapy, can help in many cases .26
A transient surge of endorphins in the reward circuits of the brain causes a slight, brief euphoria when nicotine is administered. This surge is much briefer than the “high” associated with other drugs. However, like other drugs of abuse, nicotine increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in these reward circuits,20,21,27 which reinforces the behavior of taking the drug. Repeated exposure alters these circuits’ sensitivity to dopamine and leads to changes in other brain circuits involved in learning, stress, and self-control. For many tobacco users, the long-term brain changes induced by continued nicotine exposure result in addiction, which involves withdrawal symptoms when not smoking, and difficulty adhering to the resolution to quit.28,29
The Real Reason Why Smoking Is So Addictive
We all know that smoking is incredibly addictive. Most experts say that you should never even try cigarettesnot even onebecause of how powerful nicotine is at making you need more right from the start. We wonder how people still keep trying and buying cigarettes when there are warning labels on every pack and anti-smoking campaigns found within all forms of media.
The answer is not quite as simple as it seems and there are several different factors at play. First, we will take a look at your options for quitting, and then we will examine why exactly cigarettes are such a hard habit to kick.
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Why Are Cigarettes More Addictive Nowadays
Cigarettes are addictive there is no doubt about it, but are substances added to make them more addictive? And if ingredients are added to only improve the taste, do they in actual fact only improve the taste?
The main ingredient in cigarettes is tobacco a plant that contains, among other things, a relatively high concentration of a chemical called nicotine, which is the active and addictive compound in cigarettes. But it is a mistake to consider cigarettes a natural product. Since the 1950s, the tobacco companies, especially in the U.S., initiated countless scientific studies that have led to many changes in cigarettes, in order to increase their biological and pharmacological effect. In recent years, as a result of legislative changes in the U.S. and claims filed against the cigarette manufacturers, companies have been forced to publish secret documents of the studies on smoking carried out over the years. They were also forced to disclose the ingredients that are added to cigarettes.
Here we take a look at Philip Morris USA, manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes, L & M, Parliament, etc. Below is a list of materials included in the tobacco mixture of Marlboro cigarettes :
Ingredients of Marlboro cigarettes | Screenshot from the website of Philip Morris USA
Ingredients in Camel Blue cigarettes | Screenshot from the website of the tobacco company R.J. Reynolds
: Acetaldehyde enhances acquisition of nicotine self-administration in adolescent rats.
How Powerful Is Nicotine Addiction
About 2 out of 3 of people who smoke say they want to quit and about half try to quit each year, but few succeed without help. This is because they not only become physically dependent on nicotine. Theres also a strong emotional dependence. Nicotine affects behavior, mood, and emotions. If a person uses tobacco to help manage unpleasant feelings and emotions, it can become a problem for some when they try to quit. Someone who smokes may link smoking with social activities and many other activities, too. All of these factors make smoking a hard habit to break.
In fact, it may be harder to quit smoking than to stop using cocaine or opiates like heroin. In 2012, researchers reviewed 28 different studies of people who were trying to quit using the substance they were addicted to. They found that about 18% were able to quit drinking, and more than 40% were able to quit opiates or cocaine, but only 8% were able to quit smoking.
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What Are Other Health Effects Of Tobacco Use
Although nicotine is addictive, most of the severe health effects of tobacco use comes from other chemicals. Tobacco smoking can lead to lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. It increases the risk of heart disease, which can lead to stroke or heart attack. Smoking has also been linked to other cancers, leukemia, cataracts, Type 2 Diabetes, and pneumonia. All of these risks apply to use of any smoked product, including hookah tobacco. Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of cancer, especially mouth cancers.
How Does It Make You Feel
The nicotine in tobacco smoke travels quickly to the brain, where it acts as a stimulant and increases heart rate and breathing. Tobacco smoke also reduces the level of oxygen in the bloodstream, causing a drop in skin temperature. People new to smoking often experience dizziness, nausea and coughing or gagging.
The mood-altering effects of nicotine are subtle, complex and powerful. Some people feel that smoking helps them to be alert and to concentrate, and also that it helps them to feel relaxed. Smoking raises levels of a brain chemical called dopamine, which increases feelings of pleasure and reinforces the desire to continue to smoke.
Smoking and second-hand smoke can irritate the eyes, nose and throat. Tobacco smoke may cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, coughing and wheezing, and can aggravate allergies and asthma. Smoking also weakens the sense of taste and smell, reduces hunger and causes the stomach to produce acid.
How smoking affects you depends on:
- how much and how often you smoke
- how long youve been smoking
- your mood, expectations and the environment
- your age
- whether you have certain medical or psychiatric conditions
- whether youve taken alcohol or other drugs .
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What Harmful Chemicals Does Tobacco Smoke Contain
Tobacco smoke contains many chemicals that are harmful to both smokers and nonsmokers. Breathing even a little tobacco smoke can be harmful .
Among the 250 known harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 69 can cause cancer. These cancer-causing chemicals include the following :
Questions To Ask Yourself
Take the time to think of what kind of smoker you are, which moments of your life call for a cigarette, and why. This will help you to identify which tips, techniques, or therapies may be most beneficial for you.
Are you a very heavy smoker ? Or are you more of a social smoker? Would a simple nicotine patch do the job?
Are there certain activities, places, or people you associate with smoking? Do you feel the need to smoke after every meal or whenever you break for coffee?
Do you reach for cigarettes when youre feeling stressed or down? Or is your cigarette smoking linked to other addictions, such as alcohol or gambling?
Start your stop smoking plan with START
S = Set a quit date.
Choose a date within the next two weeks, so you have enough time to prepare without losing your motivation to quit. If you mainly smoke at work, quit on the weekend, so you have a few days to adjust to the change.
T = Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit.
Let your friends and family in on your plan to quit smoking and tell them you need their support and encouragement to stop. Look for a quit buddy who wants to stop smoking as well. You can help each other get through the rough times.
A = Anticipate and plan for the challenges youll face while quitting.
Most people who begin smoking again do so within the first three months. You can help yourself make it through by preparing ahead for common challenges, such as nicotine withdrawal and cigarette cravings.
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How Can I Quit Smoking
First, congratulate yourself. Just reading this article is a big step toward becoming tobacco-free.
Many people don’t quit smoking because they think it’s too hard, and it’s true that for most people quitting isn’t easy. After all, the nicotine in cigarettes is a powerfully addictive drug. But with the right approach, you can overcome the cravings.
Keep A Craving Journal
A craving journal can help you zero in on your patterns and triggers. For a week or so leading up to your quit date, keep a log of your smoking. Note the moments in each day when you crave a cigarette:
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How Does Nicotine Addiction Work
If you’re a smoker, your brain is filled with nicotine receptors. These receptors eagerly await incoming nicotine. Think of nicotine as a key, and receptors as little locks. When the nicotine unlocks the nicotine receptors, a feel-good chemical called dopamine is released, giving you a little hit or buzz. This doesnt last long. The nicotine soon fades making the receptor eager for more. Cue nicotine withdrawal and cigarette cravings!
How To Recognize Nicotine
Nicotine is rarely sold as a singular product, rather it’s most often found as an ingredient in tobacco products like cigarettes and some smoking cessation products like nicotine gum and patches. Nicotine is sold as a liquid for use in e-cigarettes.
The FDA requires warning statement labels on tobacco products: WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.
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Psychological And Behavioral Treatments
Some people who use tobacco have success with methods such as:
- cognitive-behavioral therapy
- neuro-linguistic programming
These methods help the user change their thoughts about addiction. They work to alter feelings or behaviors your brain associates with tobacco use.
Treatment for a tobacco addition requires a combination of methods. Keep in mind that what works for one person wont necessarily work for another. You should talk to you doctor about what treatments you should try.
The Benefits Of Quitting
Some smokers are able to quit on their first attempt. However, most require multiple attempts before they are successful: in 2010, less than half of all former smokers in Canada said they quit on their first attempt.10
Tobacco addiction can be treated.
There are many cessation options for smokers. Medication or Nicotine Replacement Therapy in combination with counselling can improve one’s chances of staying smoke-free compared to counselling or medication or NRT alone.11
Quitting is more effective than other measures to avoid tobacco addiction and other smoking-related diseases.
Need help to quit? Call the pan-Canadian quitline toll-free at 1-866-366-3667.
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What To Do If You Slip Or Relapse
Most people try to stop smoking several times before they kick the habit for good, so dont beat yourself up if you slip up and smoke a cigarette. Instead, turn the relapse into a rebound by learning from your mistake. Analyze what happened right before you started smoking again, identify the triggers or trouble spots you ran into, and make a new stop-smoking plan that eliminates them.
Its also important to emphasize the difference between a slip and a relapse. If you start smoking again, it doesnt mean that you cant get back on the wagon. You can choose to learn from the slip and let it motivate you to try harder or you can use it as an excuse to go back to your smoking habit. But the choice is yours. A slip doesnt have to turn into a full-blown relapse.
Youre not a failure if you slip up. It doesnt mean you cant quit for good.
Dont let a slip become a mudslide. Throw out the rest of the pack. Its important to get back on the non-smoking track as soon as possible.
Look back at your quit log and feel good about the time you went without smoking.
Find the trigger. Exactly what was it that made you smoke again? Decide how you will cope with that issue the next time it comes up.
Learn from your experience. What has been most helpful? What didnt work?
Are you using a medicine to help you quit? Call your doctor if you start smoking again. Some medicines cannot be used if youre smoking at the same time.