The iconic image of a rugged man puffing away in between swigs from his beer mug. As someone pulls through the bar door, he wipes his mouth on the sleeve of his shirt, stamps on the cigarette, pulls out a gun and shoots the intruder. Then, he takes out another smoke and starts puffing.
Such strong imagery plants the idea of how smoking equates cool and suave to us, common folk.
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But of course, the effects of smoking – lung cancer, throat cancer, etc crashes into reality and we realise that smoking is just visually stimulating for the moment.
Okay, so we have all had our questionable and at times, regrettable moments, young – alcohol guzzling, piercings, tattoos and of course the habit of smoking.
People have tried to quit but many have failed miserably. Patches, abstinence, gum- may work on some but not all. The question here is not why we can’t quit. Rather, it’s what makes us addicted to nicotine?
Nicotine addiction can be split into three main factors – physical, psychological and social.
1. Physical Factors that stop people from quitting the smoke
Nicotine is actually a more addictive substance than other harder drugs like cocaine or heroine. When Nicotine enters the bloodstream, it is rapidly transported to the brain, where it prompts the release of adrenaline and dopamine.
The adrenaline makes the smoker more alert, while the dopamine gives a feeling of satisfaction and pleasure. The problem is that these feelings pass within a few minutes, and the user quickly has to light up another cigarette. These powerful addictive qualities all too often result in smokers neglecting their health for a short-term gain.
2. Psychological Factors that stop people from quitting the smoke
It is important to realise that Nicotine is not a drug in the same way like heroin or cocaine are. Rather than give the user a high, it actually helps the smoker get back to his equilibrium.
This is why it does not affect a person’s work ethic in the same way that some illegal drugs can, and why many smokers find their
Nicotine habit simply useful to cope with a range of emotions, from stress to anxiety to boredom, and ending the habit means going through an uncomfortable period where these emotions have to be dealt with more directly.
Most health professionals will talk about the psychological and physical qualities that make Nicotine so addictive. However, potential quitters have to deal with a variety of other outside influences before they can stop smoking.
Firstly, habit is a powerful thing. Going to a bar with your friends, talking about business on smoke breaks during work, and lighting up while driving are all regular parts of many smokers’ routines. Breaking the habit doesn’t just mean kicking Nicotine out of your life, it also involves changing your lifestyle so that these temptations are kept to a minimum.
Secondly, despite smoking bans around the world and a crackdown on advertising, we are still surrounded by images of cigarettes.
So how do you quit the smoke?
Pick a date to quit within the next ten days and commit to it. Try to choose a special date, like an anniversary or your kid’s birthday so that it will be easier to stick to the plan. If you work Monday to Friday, make your quit day the Friday. That way you can make it through the weekend without any cigarette break temptations.
Fill the weekend with activities, friends and family, so that you don’t even have time to miss smoking.
Next, tell everyone you know. Add the weight of their expectations to that of your own, and feel that you would be letting them down too if you fail. Tell your friends at work and any colleagues that you go without cigarette breaks. Let them know not to invite you, and to watch in case you try to sneak out by yourself!
Lastly, find a friend to quit with, preferably someone with a strong will who can support each other during the process.
To stick to the plan of quitting, you have to cut down on the aspects of temptations…How? By planning ahead. Try to keep away from the following.
- Friends who smoke
- Tempting environments like bars or pubs.
- Remove all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters from the house, car and workplace.
- Take up a new hobby, join a new class, enter the gym to fill the space of time.
- Dental Check-up: Get your teeth cleaned regularly.
- Clean your house or car to rid off cigarette smell.
With all the help and support available, perhaps quitting will no longer be a hassle. At times, quitting smoking is not only for us but for the people around us – our spouse, our children and our friends.
To find out more information visit Anti-Smoking Centre website!
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