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Why is It so Difficult to Quit Smoking?

Nicotine gum can help with quitting smoking.
Like many repetive habits, smoking can be an incredibly difficult habit to break.
Anger and other withdrawal symptoms make quitting smoking difficult.
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  • Written By: S. Scolari
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 01 August 2014
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It is very difficult to quit smoking because of the addictive nature of nicotine, a drug that occurs naturally in tobacco. Nicotine is just as physically and mentally addictive as cocaine or heroin and smokers quickly become dependent on it. They then have to overcome both the physical and psychological effects of nicotine addiction in order to quit and to remain cigarette-free.

The act of smoking can also develop into a routine over time. Like many repetitive habits, it can be very hard to break.

Nicotine creates pleasurable feelings that make the smoker crave more. It also inhibits the proper functioning of nerve cells. As the smoker's nervous system adapts to the drug, they usually smoke more cigarettes, which in turn, raises the level of nicotine in the bloodstream. Eventually the smoker develops a tolerance to nicotine, which in turn leads to a further increase in smoking. Eventually a certain nicotine level is achieved in the smoker's body and they then smoke enough to maintain it.

When a smoker tries to cut back or quit, he experiences mental and physcial withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can include irritability, anger, depression, tiredness, inability to sleep or to concentrate, restlessness, headaches, and increased appetite.

These unpleasant symptons can cause the smoker to resume smoking in an attempt to raise the levels of nicotine in the blood to the point where the symptoms cease. Many smokers explain that the cravings they experience when they try to quit are intense.

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If a person has smoked for a few weeks or more, he will experience withdrawal symptoms when he tries to quit or cut back. Symptoms usually occur within a few hours of the last cigarette and peak within 48 to 72 hours. Withdrawal symptoms can last for days or weeks.

The psychological addiction can persist for much longer. Smokers frequently return to the habit when under stress. They may also return to it as a form of weight control since pounds typically creep up when smoking is discontinued.

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Discuss this Article

anon171996
Post 5

Thanks for sharing your article! I am of the view that, contrary to popular belief, the nicotine and chemical elements do not cause a strong enough deterrent to quit smoking. Your mindset, willpower, and the nature of your habit do.

The physical and chemical reaction, or the psychological urge is really a slight signal in the mind, causing people to turn to the comforting habit of smoking again. If you have strong enough desire to quit smoking, there are a few tricks that can be utilized to easily switch-off those feelings or urges.

People have been using this method in one way or another and enjoyed the success of being able to quit smoking. It is a lifelong process that they will learn to love, as they feel a strong sense of empowerment and pride when they succeed. -- M. Man

comfyshoes
Post 4

@SauteePan -I think a support group is a great idea because there you can talk to people who know exactly how you feel and are experiencing similar things.

This really helps to lessen the loneliness that you feel when you encounter an addiction like this. When you see that are people have the same problem that you have you somehow feel a little better.

Quitting smoking is a long term goal that should involve everyone in your life. If everyone is aware of your goal they will help you support it. I think that that is the best way to quit smoking.

I also think that if you are scared that you might be more motivated to stop. I saw a television program in which a man that had been smoking for 20 years stopped smoking because he saw the x-ray of a patient that was a lifelong smoker.

This scared him enough to finally stop. Sometimes it takes a drastic measure like that to get someone started. They do say that fear is an effective motivator sometimes and it does help some people quit smoking for good.

SauteePan
Post 3

@Crispety -I think that the person has to want to stop smoking. They really can’t do something like this for someone else. I agree that seeing a therapist will help and I know that many states have toll free hotlines that are manned twenty four hours a day to offer support for people to quit smoking.

I think this is great because not everyone has the time or the money to see a therapist and some people might be embarrassed with the face to face contact, but may not have a problem talking to someone over the phone.

There are a lot of products on the market that can help a person quit smoking but they also need to develop a strong support system because during the moments when they are the weakest is when they will reach for that cigarette.

I also think that people have to forgive themselves if they do have a momentary lapse because the importance really is to develop progress towards quitting not to expect perfection because the all are nothing approach will doom anyone looking to quit smoking.

There will be pitfalls but you just have to bounce back from them and this will give you confidence to continue.

Crispety
Post 2

@MrSnuff - I didn't know that.I think that the best way to quit smoking for good has to involve a comprehensive approach. I think that I would go see a doctor in order to get a prescription for medication that could help me quit smoking cigarettes but I also feel that another component to quit smoking involves cognitive behavioral therapy.

Since there is also a psychological components to this addiction a therapist can help the person addicted to cigarettes try to find alternative activities that the person can engage in when they experience the desire to smoke.

Sometimes the therapist will ask the patient to fill out a daily journal because this will help her determine what the emotional triggers that causes them to want the cigarette are.

Sometimes a person will want a cigarette to reduce stress or some other form of discomfort. The therapist could then tell the patient to go for a walk or jump rope vigorously in order to halt the cravings for the cigarettes.

It is really a long process and sometimes the addicted person has to practice what to do ahead of time so that they will be prepared when faced with a potential smoking dilemma.

MrSnuff
Post 1

Try nasal snuff to quit smoking. The success rate is around 74% versus the nicotine patch at 14%.

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