Smoke Addiction Essay
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Nicotine is a highly addictive substance because of the way it makes us feel, both emotionally and physically, and because the way we obtain nicotine becomes a normal part of our daily lives. When most people think about serious addition, they think of cocaine or heroin addiction, but tobacco is also a highly addictive substance that is hard to eliminate from your life once you've started using it. When a person becomes addicted to smoking, they smoke in order to achieve the physiological (physical) and psychological (mental) satisfaction that smoking provides. Unfortunately, smoking-related satisfaction is very short-lived and new cravings develop quickly. Recognizing the nature of your addiction, including the physical and psychological cravings, can help you to identify and prepare for the difficulties you might face while you are in the process of quitting.
The pleasurable consequences of smoking are considerable, and they affect the mind as well as the body. One of the main reasons that people become addicted to nicotine is because it activates the pleasure center of their brain. The average smoker takes about 10 puffs on every cigarette, and nicotine levels in the brain peak within 10 seconds of inhaling. Since the satisfaction one gains from smoking lasts only a few minutes, smokers soon crave another cigarette. If one cigarette supplies approximately 10 surges of nicotine to the brain, smoking 1½ packs of cigarettes a day provides a smoker with approximately 300 nicotine hits.
Addiction to nicotine is the reason many smokers find it difficult to quit. When a smoker tries to quit, he or she often experiences withdrawal symptoms, including depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating or sleeping, headache, and tiredness. Many people find it to be too painful to try to overcome withdrawal symptoms, and choose to face the risks instead of quitting.
Psychological factors are often one of the reasons that breaking the nicotine addiction is so difficult. For many smokers, the act of smoking has become such a part of their lives that they feel like they have lost a part of themselves when stop smoking. Psychologically, it is normal to mourn the loss of such a familiar habit. It is also common for people who give up smoking to experience one or more of the common stages of grief (denial, bargaining, anger, sadness, guilt, and acceptance) as they learn to change the way they live. If you find yourself experiencing any one of these emotions, recognize that it is normal and okay, that many people must work through these stages on the path to quitting, and that you, too, can successfully work through each stage.
In addition to overcoming the physiological effects of nicotine, smoking cessation is often difficult because you have become so accustomed to the behavioral aspect of smoking. Habitual smokers can identify the places where they usually smoke, or circumstances that make them crave a cigarette. Without even thinking about it, many people reach for a cigarette after finishing a meal, while driving their cars, or when dealing with a stressful situation. In fact, habitual smokers may even feel uncomfortable if they find themselves facing any of these situations without a cigarette.
It is very easy to associate the feel, smell, and sight of a cigarette; the rituals associated with smoking (obtaining the cigarette, handling the cigarette, looking for a lighter and actually lighting the cigarette); and the times and places you smoke with the pleasurable feeling you get from smoking. These connections are formed by a process called classical conditioning, which was discovered by the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov (of "Pavlov's dog" fame). Pavlov's famous experiment was conducted to see if he could train dogs to salivate when they heard the sound of a bell. At first, Pavlov only rang the bell when he fed the dogs, knowing that salivating while eating is a natural reaction. Soon, he was able to make the dogs salivate just by ringing the bell, even if there was no food present. The dogs had learned that the ringing bell signaled that food would be coming soon; their normal response to food had become transferred to the sound of the bell. Similarly, smokers learn to associate the pleasures of smoking with all of the daily activities they usually perform while smoking. For example, if you smoke while drinking a cup of coffee, the sight and smell of a cup of coffee could trigger the craving for a cigarette or make the craving worse. Since you probably smoke many cigarettes over the course of one day, many such connections are made. If you smoke while driving to work, getting into the car can result in a craving for a cigarette. If you smoke while having a drink after work, then having a drink can make you want a cigarette. You need to identify and plan for all of the places and behaviors you associate with smoking before you will be able to entirely quit using tobacco. Once you've identified your triggers (those people, places and things that trigger your craving for a smoke), you can change your routine and substitute different behaviors, so you can eliminate the connection between the triggers and smoking. In order to be successful, you must learn to deal with physical cravings and you must change your environment or your habits in order to avoid your triggers.
Tobacco is a plant grown for its leaves, which are dried and fermented before being put in tobacco products. Tobacco contains nicotine, an ingredient that can lead to addiction, which is why so many people who use tobacco find it difficult to quit. There are also many other potentially harmful chemicals found in tobacco or created by burning it.
People can smoke, chew, or sniff tobacco. Smoked tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, bidis, and kreteks. Some people also smoke loose tobacco in a pipe or hookah (water pipe). Chewed tobacco products include chewing tobacco, snuff, dip, and snus; snuff can also be sniffed.
Although nicotine is addictive, most of the severe health effects of tobacco use comes from other chemicals. Tobacco smoking can lead to lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. It increases the risk of heart disease, which can lead to stroke or heart attack. Smoking has also been linked to other cancers, leukemia, cataracts, Type 2 Diabetes, and pneumonia. All of these risks apply to use of any smoked product, including hookah tobacco. Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of cancer, especially mouth cancers.
Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes or e-vaporizers, are battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine with flavorings and other chemicals to the lungs in vapor instead of smoke. E-cigarette companies often advertise them as safer than traditional cigarettes because they don't burn tobacco. But researchers actually know little about the health risks of using these devices. Read more about e-cigarettes in our Electronic Cigarettes (e-Cigarettes) DrugFacts.
Pregnant women who smoke cigarettes run an increased risk of miscarriage, stillborn or premature infants, or infants with low birth weight. Smoking while pregnant may also be associated with learning and behavioral problems in exposed children.
People who stand or sit near others who smoke are exposed to secondhand smoke, either coming from the burning end of the tobacco product or exhaled by the person who is smoking. Secondhand smoke exposure can also lead to lung cancer and heart disease. It can cause health problems in both adults and children, such as coughing, phlegm, reduced lung function, pneumonia, and bronchitis. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk of ear infections, severe asthma, lung infections, and death from sudden infant death syndrome.
Because of the mortality and morbidity associated with both tobacco and alcohol abuse, it is important to address both addictions. Research is beginning to explain some of the reasons behind the frequent co-occurrence of these disorders. Treating co-occurring disorders remains a challenge; however, evidence suggests that combining treatments might be the most effective way to address concurrent addictions. Special populations, such as depressed patients and adolescents, present additional challenges, but research is exploring new strategies targeting these groups. Although more work needs to be done, it is clear that research already is helping to improve the lives of people with co-occurring addictions to alcohol and nicotine.
Source material for this Alcohol Alert originally appeared in Alcohol Research & Health, Volume 29, Number 3, 2006. Articles highlight the latest research on alcohol and tobacco, including the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco use and co-use, biological mechanisms and genetic factors behind co-use, and strategies to treat patients with co-occurring alcohol and tobacco addiction.
Get support. People are more likely to succeed at quitting when friends and family help. If you don't want to tell your family that you smoke, ask friends to help you quit. Consider confiding in a counselor or other adult you trust. If it's hard to find people who support you (like if your friends smoke and aren't interested in quitting), join an online or in-person support group.
Set a quit date. Pick a day that you'll stop smoking. Put it on your calendar and tell friends and family (if they know) that you'll quit on that day. Think of the day as a dividing line between the smoking you and the new, improved nonsmoker you'll become.
Wash all your clothes. Get rid of the smell of cigarettes as much as you can by washing all your clothes and having your coats or sweaters dry-cleaned. If you smoked in your car, clean that out, too. 2b1af7f3a8