It is extremely difficult to beat nicotine addiction, especially for long term smokers. The majority of smokers fail their quits because they are largely unaware of how their addiction actually works.
“To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did, I ought to know because I’ve done it a thousand times,” Mark Twain famously joked.
We all know the health risks of smoking, but that doesn’t make it any easier to kick the habit. Whether you’re a teen smoker or a lifetime pack-a-day smoker, quitting can be really tough. The nicotine in cigarettes offers a quick and reliable way to boost your outlook, relieve stress, and unwind.
Nicotine — the addictive drug in tobacco — is one of the most difficult to beat. Withdrawal symptoms are the reason many people don’t manage to quit smoking. These include intense cravings, irritability, fatigue and inability to concentrate. They can begin within a few hours of the last cigarette.
When you use tobacco products, nicotine is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream. Within 10 seconds of entering your body, the nicotine reaches your brain. It causes the brain to release adrenaline, creating a buzz of pleasure and energy.
The buzz fades quickly though, and leaves you feeling tired, a little down, and wanting the buzz again. This feeling is what makes you light up the next cigarette. Since your body is able to build up a high tolerance to nicotine, you’ll need to smoke more and more cigarettes in order to get the nicotine’s pleasurable effects and prevent withdrawal symptoms.
While it may be true that a nicotine addiction is difficult to overcome, there are simple practices that you can introduce into your daily routine that will significantly improve the likelihood of long-term success. The reality is that the cravings felt when you decide to give up smoking are pretty easy to deal with. The biggest change and perhaps the hardest part is to change the structures in your brain that have formed around the belief that you are a smoker.
Why is quitting smoking so hard?
Smoking tobacco is both a physical addiction and a psychological habit. The nicotine from cigarettes provides a temporary—and addictive—high. Eliminating that regular fix of nicotine will cause your body to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Because of nicotine’s “feel good” effect on the brain, you may also have become accustomed to smoking as a way of coping with stress, depression, anxiety, or even boredom.
At the same time, the act of smoking is 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 from work or school, or during your commute home at the end of a long day. Perhaps friends, family members, and colleagues smoke, and it has become part of the way you relate with them.
The More You Smoke, The More You Will Need to Smoke.
A physiological process called up-regulation, occurs in the brain when you smoke or chew tobacco. The brain becomes de-sensitized to nicotine and requires more of it to trigger a dopamine high. Once a smoker becomes chemically dependent, the brain undergoes an aggressive and progressive transformation.
These are some things to consider as reasons for quitting smoking:
Smoking is extremely dangerous to my health or is ruining my health
Lost sense of smell
It bothers me to be dependent on cigarettes
Smoking gives very bad breath
I frequently have a sore throat from smoking
I would have more energy if I did not smoke
Fear that quitting smoking will make me gain weight.
Quitting smoking does not make you gain weight. You gain weight by over-eating. The people who gain weight when they quit smoking are those who keep putting food in their mouth instead of cigarettes.
Cigarette smoke leaves an unpleasant smell
Nicotine stains on my fingers.
My teeth are discolored from smoking.
I am losing contact with my non-smoking friends
Cigarette smoke bothers other people
Spend too much money on cigarettes
The Conclusion on Nicotine Addiction
No doubt there have been times when the only reason you decide to have a smoke is because you have noticed you have not had a smoke in a while. Many times you can be pre-occupied with something else you have simply forgotten to remember to have a smoke. The reality is, that nicotine is removed from the body pretty quickly, in fact a person is able to smoke 3-4 cigarettes a day without the body having too much trouble removing the poison’s from your system. Within 2-3 days after stopping smoking the nicotine has been removed from your system and almost immediately the effects begin to reduce and are almost completely gone within a week or just a little longer.
The success stories and the numbers speak very clearly
What happens when I quit?
Tobacco and nicotine are addictive like alcohol, cocaine, and heroin. When you stop smoking or cutback your tobacco use, you experience withdrawal.
When going through withdrawal you may experience:
Cravings for cigarettes and other sources of nicotine
Nicotine withdrawal is short-lived and symptoms pass in time, usually less than a week. Withdrawal is the most uncomfortable part of quitting, but the real challenge is beating long-term cravings and staying away from tobacco.
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There’s a vast difference between wanting to quit and deciding to quit. Real commitment includes a definite decision to quit, with a practical plan of action.
Strategies for Quitting
To quit smoking, you have to solve two problems – you have to find out the psychological reasons why you smoke, and develop methods for dealing with all the aspects of your life so that you are not dependent on tobacco, and – you have to conquer your physical addiction to nicotine. An addict can choose to get treatment from regular rehab centers, or, if they can afford it, they can go to luxury treatment centers that have wonderful amenities.
Identify your smoking triggers
One of the best things you can do to help yourself quit is to identify the things that make you want to smoke, including specific situations, activities, feelings, and people.
Start to wean yourself from cigarette cravings by breaking familiar patterns that are linked to smoking. Change your routine. If you’re in the habit of smoking after meals, make sure to leave the table as soon as you finish eating. Start a new, healthy habit, like taking a short walk after each meal. Whenever possible, avoid situations where you know you’ll have the urge to smoke, particularly in the first few days of nicotine withdrawal. Spend as much time as possible in places where smoking isn’t allowed. Libraries, museums, theaters, and churches are just a few examples.
Make your home and car smoke-free zones by asking others not to smoke there.
Replace the pack of cigarettes with a talisman (e.g., a photo of a loved one) or a souvenir that reminds you of what you want to accomplish. Don’t carry matches or a lighter. Avoid situations that you associate with smoking. Keep busy to overcome the urge to smoke. Sit in the “no smoking” sections of public places. Remember the health risks of smoking
Focus on what you expect to gain by quitting. Breathe deeply to fight off the desire to smoke. Drink plenty of water to remain hydrated. Stay away from places where people smoke to avoid temptation. Tell others about your effort to quit smoking.Ask friends and family for support to help you quit smoking. There are also Internet chat rooms that can provide you with support and ideas for remaining smoke-free.
Delay – if you feel like you’re going to give in to your tobacco craving, tell yourself that you must first wait 10 more minutes — and then do something to distract yourself for that period of time. Try going to a public, smoke-free zone. These simple tricks may be enough to derail your tobacco craving.
Chew on it – give your mouth something to do to fight a tobacco craving. Chew on sugarless gum or hard candy, or munch on raw carrots, celery, nuts or sunflower seeds — something crunchy and satisfying.
Don’t have ‘just one’ – you might be tempted to have just one cigarette to satisfy a tobacco craving. But don’t fool yourself into believing that you can stop there. More often than not, having just one leads to another— and you may end up using tobacco again.
Physical activity can help distract you from tobacco cravings and reduce their intensity. Even short burst of physical activity — such as running up and down the stairs a few times — can make a tobacco craving go away. Get out for a walk or jog.
Remind yourself of the benefits
Write down or say out loud the reasons you want to stop smoking and resist tobacco cravings. These might include:
Sparing your loved ones from secondhand smoke
Remember, trying something to beat the urge is always better than doing nothing. And each time you resist a tobacco craving, you’re one step closer to being totally tobacco-free.
Reward Yourself for Your Success at Not Smoking
Smoking is expensive. Set aside the money you’re saving by not buying cigarettes and use it for a treat, or save up for a vacation or a major purchase. Be sure to congratulate yourself for going without cigarettes. It’s a new habit that you can be proud of.
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