Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, and emphysema, among the hundreds. It kills us. But why do we continue to smoke even if we know how harmful it is? Why is tobacco so strong that it is almost impossible to beat for most people?
There are many reasons why people smoke. Some people just enjoy the taste of tobacco, others get pleasure from socializing with friends while puffing away, and some people may use it to calm their nerves. Whatever the reason, most people who start smoking will find it really hard to stop.
People who smoke often say that they just “can’t quit.” But why is quitting so difficult?
In this post, we’ll explore the reasons why smoking is so addictive. We’ll also look at how nicotine and habit affect the brain. If you know the reasons, it may be easier to quit smoking.
Smokers have various reasons for smoking…
1. The effects of smoking are immediate and calming
You likely began smoking because you required stress relief problems at home, work, or financially. When you felt overwhelmed or stressed, you turned to smoke as a coping mechanism. Smoking quickly relieves unpleasant feelings.
Smoking releases chemicals into the body that act as natural painkillers. When someone smokes, nicotine floods the brain and triggers the release of endorphins, which are naturally produced hormones that relieve pain, reduce stress, and improve your sense of well-being.
This effect is similar to taking a hot bath after a long day at work. During the relaxation phase of the cycle, endorphins are released, resulting in a feeling of happiness and relaxation.
Smoking may seem the most pleasant way to relax and unwind after a stressful day, but it is actually more harmful than helpful to your body. You can release stress much more healthily by exercising, which also releases the body’s endorphins.
2. Taking a smoke break with other people is enjoyable
As a social experience, smoking is addictive. Smokers can feel better when surrounded by other smokers. They’re not alone. Having a sense of acceptance makes them happy, relaxed, and comfortable. It’s especially true among smokers who hang out at bars and restaurants.
Hanging out with friends makes you more social, open-minded, and willing to try new things. And this is exactly what happens when you light up a cigarette. Assimilation and belonging come with cigarettes. You feel normal and comfortable. You’re no longer isolated. There is an improvement in your mood. As a result, you become happier and more social.
And this is another reason why smoking is addictive.
3. Whenever you wish, you may light one
When you are stressed or simply want to relax, nothing is more convenient than picking up a cigarette from the box. It is always with us and provides a quick release. In a few seconds, we can enjoy the calmness. However, this is not true if we wish to calm down through other means, such as exercise. You cannot do push-ups or jump anywhere or at any time when stressed. Smoking is undoubtedly a very comfortable habit that does not require much effort on our part.
Smoking might seem like an anti-stress solution, but it actually makes things worse!
Research was conducted by pewresearch.com, where smokers and non-smokers were asked about their general stress levels. Surprisingly, smokers feel stressed more than non-smokers or ex-smokers. Even more interesting is that those who don’t smoke are happier and more satisfied.
4. You are surrounded by smokers.
The other reason is that we are surrounded by those who smoke, including our parents, siblings, cousins, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, teachers, coaches, etc. Those people often influence our behavior (social proximity effect). And, even worse, when you are among them, and they force you to light on one. If people with a particular habit surround us, sooner or later, we will also be influenced by that habit. That is how we operate as humans.
The majority of smokers began smoking in their teens. Teenagers often think that smoking is cool, and some even see smoking as a rite of passage into adulthood. Many teen smokers believe that smoking makes them seem older and more sophisticated. Other teens believe they must fit in with their peers and belong to the popular group.
5. Nicotine is a physical dependence
Nicotine is undoubtedly one of the most addictive chemicals you can put into your body. When it enters the bloodstream, it releases dopamine in the brain, creating a feeling of pleasure. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter—a chemical that transmits messages within the brain. It influences behaviors, motivations, learning, memory, movement, sleep, appetite, temperature regulation, pain perception, and emotions. Nicotine affects the brain, like cocaine, heroin, alcohol, and other addictive substances. That’s why withdrawal symptoms are so severe.
The human brain craves more tobacco to obtain the same pleasant feeling from nicotine. In fact, many smokers report needing to increase the amount of tobacco they consume each day just to feel satisfied. When nicotine becomes part of someone’s daily routine, it changes the brain. Heavy smoking is the result. As a result, nicotine withdrawal symptoms worsen.
First-time smokers may experience nausea, dizziness, headaches, etc., because tobacco products are full of harmful chemicals that they aren’t accustomed to yet. However, over time as you develop a tolerance to those effects, you begin to enjoy the effects of nicotine. As you take nicotine daily, your body becomes accustomed to it.
6. Likely, your family members smoke as well
Nicotine addiction is often attributed to genetics. Family history is strongly correlated with smoking addiction. If one or more of your parents smoked, you are also more likely to smoke. This is likely because addiction is partially genetic.
Having tobacco-using parents does not necessarily mean that you will become addicted to nicotine. Genetics is only one factor that contributes to nicotine addiction. The environment, lifestyle, and personal preferences also play an important role.
Do not despair if your family has a tobacco addiction history. You can do things to reduce your risk of becoming addicted yourself. Make sure you avoid exposure to secondhand smoke, lead a healthy lifestyle, and don’t start smoking just because your parents did.
7. It’s part of your daily routine
The development of habits is one of the most important aspects of the human experience. We develop habits in order to simplify our lives and organize them better. However, some habits can be harmful, such as smoking.
Several habits are related to smoking addiction, which is often prompted by irresistible urges. For example, some people smoke a cigarette after a meal. Others smoke a cigarette with their morning coffee. Many people enjoy lighting up a cigarette as a means of starting and finishing tasks.
Smokers become accustomed to the ritual of smoking and find it difficult to go without a cigarette for long periods. These ritual habits can be hard to break because it becomes ingrained in their daily routine.
The following chart shows perfectly how this vicious circle works.
It is due to nicotine’s power that smoking is addictive. A cigarette only causes euphoria for a brief period before releasing serotonin, which calms us down. The calming effect, however, does not last long. The cycle repeats itself until we become addicted to smoking. Once we become addicted, we are incapable of stopping.
We can break the addiction by replacing cigarettes with healthier alternatives. You can switch from regular cigarettes to e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine through vapor. Inhalers, tablets, patches, gum, or nasal sprays can also help.
But there’s no substitute for quitting cold turkey.
Quitting smoking cold turkey is not only physically painful but psychologically challenging too.
You’re forced to confront your addiction head-on when you quit cold turkey. The withdrawal symptoms alone can be enough to keep you hooked. But once you’ve decided to stop, there’s nothing left to do but face the pain and endure the discomfort until you finally kick the habit.
Getting rid of the habit requires mental and emotional preparation. Make sure you have plenty of support and encouragement from friends and family members who care about you. And remember, you can never go back to smoking again. Once you’ve kicked the habit, you won’t ever crave cigarettes again.