Cigarette Smoking – Why it is Addictive and Methods for Quitting
Cigarette smoking, a big why? The reasons reside in complex biochemistry and strong neuro-associations. Are smokers doomed or there is light at the end of the tunnel?
For the last 50 years, a new wave against cigarette smoking has swept the planet, forcing millions of people to face their addiction. Until a couple of decades ago tobacco giants claimed that cigarette smoking was not directly related to cancer, heart disease and ultimately death. Thanks to the constant research in the field of medicine, cigarettes were finally put on the stand as one of the primary causes of death worldwide. Despite the well-known effects of cigarettes smoking these are sold by the sheer number of 15 billion a day and counting.
Why and How Does Addiction Occur?
Each cigarette contains over 4000 chemicals with nicotine as its main component. The latter is a natural liquid-like substance found in the tobacco leaves and it is identified as the cause of cigarette addiction. Addiction is the result of complex mechanisms triggered by the absorption of nicotine in the brain and the body. The addiction process begins immediately. With each drag, the smoker experiences a “high” due to the direct stimulation of the adrenal glands which in turn release a substance named “adrenaline.” Adrenaline is responsible for increasing respiration, heartbeat and blood pressure. In the brain, nicotine has a similar effect. Cigarette smoking fosters the secretion of dopamine, a neurotransmitter directly responsible for feelings such as pleasure and euphoria. The direct and immediate correlation between these feelings and the act of smoking is at the root of nicotine addiction. As with many other addictive substances, the constant use of nicotine causes a phenomenon called “tolerance” in which ever-increasing doses of the same substance are needed in order to produce the same stimulating effects.
Why is it Hard to Quit?
When the required amount of nicotine necessary to cause stimulation in the body is not maintained, the smoker begins suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
Some of these symptoms may vary but include:
-increased appetite resulting in weight gain
Whilst the presence of these symptoms will gradually diminish after the last cigarette has been extinguished, many people find hard to cope with them and in some cases they (the symptoms) can affect the daily functioning of each individual who is trying to quit.
Methods to Quit Smoking
Those who decide to quit will no doubt take a significant step toward a healthier and longer life. The good news is that at the present there are number of methods available to do so. There are two main approaches, the medical and non-medical therapies.
The former uses nicotine replacement therapies where nicotine is administered in a less damaging form (without the dangerous chemicals in cigarettes) such as nicotine gums and nicotine patches. Here nicotine is delivered in small and steady doses reducing the withdrawal symptoms. This process leads the person to a gradual adjustment to a cigarette-free life. Most recently, some drugs, like bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix), both non-nicotine drugs, have been proven to help smokers by reducing the severity of nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Nonmedical therapies are medicine-free methods aiming at improving the psychological impact of nicotine withdrawal. Hypnosis, for instance, with the help of a specialised hypnotherapist, aspires to strengthen the resolution to quit whilst associating negative feeling to the cigarette use. Cognitive/behavioural therapy is a popular psychological approach mainly used to treat some mental illnesses such as personality disorders and depression. This therapy helps the individual to recognise smoking related behavioural patterns whilst providing coping skills to break the habit.
In recent years, e-cigs have helped thousands of people quit smoking. E-cigarettes vaporize nicotine in liquid form so the drug is delivered directly instead of by the means of burning tobacco which creates tar containing cancer-causing chemicals. To get started with e-cigs, visit www.vaporesso.com.
Regardless of the method chosen to quit nicotine addiction, it appears that, in the majority of cases, best results are achieved by highly motivated individuals. Withdrawals symptoms can often cause relapse if there is a lack of discipline and determination. After failing several attempts, people may experience depression and loss of self-esteem hence letting the cigarette win the ultimate battle in the quest for a healthy, longer and better life.