Smoking is a very dangerous addiction, yet people can't give it up easily. Find out why smoking is so addictive, what are the problems that result from smoking, what are the treatment methods for it, what the benefits of quitting are and much more about smoking from this informative piece of write-up.
Why is smoking so addictive?
Smoking rushes nicotine to the brain and this is the fastest method of delivery smoking also gives smokers precise control over their nicotine intake. Therefore, both 'speed and control' greatly enhance the addictive effect of nicotine
on the brain. Smoking actually introduces nicotine to the pulmonary beds of the lungs from where nicotine is directly transported to the brain in seconds.
Nicotine mimics the neurotransmitter acetylcholine it binds to and activates the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Once nicotine reaches the brain, it quickly spreads to the activated brain regions such as reward, memory and learning centres. These firing receptors cause the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure and addiction. So, in order to maintain these dopamine levels, a person needs to smoke frequently
. Smoking may actually maintain dopamine levels
by reducing enzymes that break it down or by increasing the level of molecules that inhibit dopamine clean up.
Simultaneously, nicotine also influences other areas of the brain that control mood, energy levels and memory as well as cause long-lasting neurological changes
. As a result, the brain gets used to a constant dose of nicotine and therefore when you stop smoking, you experience withdrawal symptoms
. This also makes it a difficult habit to kick.
What is passive smoking and what are the risks?
Passive smoking can be defined as involuntary inhalation of second-hand tobacco smoke
. This second-hand tobacco smoke is a mixture of smoke exhaled by active smokers as well as smoke released from smouldering tobacco, diluted with ambient air. Passive smoking generally occurs in closed environments, but open environments are equally prone. Passive smokers are also exposed to carcinogens
and toxic components present in second-hand tobacco smoke.
Passive smoking can have serious effects on an individual's health. The health effects of passive smoking are as serious and debilitating as smoking itself. The risks outlined below have been linked with passive smoking.
- Cancer - About 3,000 cancer-related non smoker deaths are directly attributed to passive smoking each year.
- Heart Diseases - Approximately 50,000 non smoker deaths occur from heart related issues and can be linked to passive smoking.
- Respiratory Diseases and Problems - Second hand smoke causes higher rates of lower respiratory infections, including bronchitis and pneumonia. It is also a contributory factor for upper respiratory irritation and infections as well as decreased lung function.
- Ear Infections - Passive smoking is accountable for an increased number of ear infections.
- Low Birth Weight - Second hand smoke is responsible for 10,000 low birth weight births a year and is a major factor for many infant deaths.
- Asthma - Second hand smoke is responsible for nearly 8,000 new cases of asthma annually.
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome - Passive smoking is related to nearly 2,000 cases of SIDS each year.
- Still births - Passive smoking is also accountable for an increased risk of still births and spontaneous abortions.
What problems can arise from smoking?
Smoking is harmful and the dangers of smoking are serious. Tobacco smoke contains 43 cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds besides 400 other toxins that include nicotine and tar. Nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco and tar congests the lungs, inhibiting normal breathing. Additionally, smoking causes lung and throat cancer
, heart disease
, as well as bronchial and lung disorders
Non smokers are also at risk of developing smoking related illnesses through passive smoking. A pregnant woman
who smokes increases the chances of her baby dying from SIDS
, being underweight and having behavioural problems. The world's leading cause of death and disability, smoking-related illnesses cause 30 million deaths per year.
What should be done to give up smoking?
Giving up smoking is the most difficult thing. So, to give up smoking, you:
- Must have the desire to give up smoking and create a strong will to avoid a smoking relapse
- Must learn about the effects of smoking, understand its consequences and face the fact that you need to stop smoking and follow, finish and maintain a quit smoking plan
Once you have made up your mind to quit smoking, half the battle is won because most smokers do not think about quitting. Smokers often try to quit more than once before they actually succeed. But continuing to try also needs grit and perseverance it also shows how committed you are to the cause.
Once you have learned about the dangers of smoking, you will definitely feel more committed to quit. Learning about the health implications is enough to shock most people into quitting quickly.
You must prepare to quit smoking. You must distance yourself from friends, situations or places that compel you to smoke. Be surrounded by people who can help you with your initiative. If you want to quit smoking and remain a quitter, you have to stay away from temptation and persistent nicotine cravings. 'Slipping up' will only lead to a relapse so keep yourself motivated to remain smoke free.
What options are available to help stop smoking?
Some people have a strong determination to quit smoking
via the cold turkey method this is achieved by sheer will power alone. However, most smoker's find it difficult to quit in this way and therefore require treatment to help them quit smoking. Some men and women may become non-smokers through counselling alone but their numbers can be counted on the fingertips. Counselling helps strengthen a person's motivation to quit and keeps him/her motivated until he/she is able to quit successfully.
Many smokers take advantage of nicotine replacement therapy (NRTs) to help them quit smoking. This therapy works to relieve a person from nicotine withdrawal symptoms by providing nicotine externally. This measured intake of nicotine by way of nicotine chewing gums, nicotine patches, nicotine tabs, lozenges, nicotine nasal spray and inhalators, work well for some people. At the same time these people are well protected from other harmful toxins present in cigarette smoke
. However, as NRTs provide nicotine, there is always a chance that person may become re-addicted to nicotine.
What are the benefits of quitting smoking?
Benefits of quitting smoking are manifold. You will begin to notice remarkable changes in your body. Your sense of smell and taste improve, you breathe easier and your smoker's hack begins to disappear the long range after-effects of quitting actually signal the beginning of a healthier life. Most importantly, you improve your chances for a longer life because now you have a reduced risk from heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and several kinds of cancers. You can quit smoking and avail benefits such as:
- Living longer and enjoying an improved quality of life
- Regaining the love and respect of your loved ones
- Saving time spent on smoking for other effective uses
- Living healthier through prevention of smoking related diseases
- Smelling better, having clean unstained teeth
- Relishing the taste of food
- Having a healthier skin
- Enjoying a better sex life quitting smoking is known to improve fertility and reduce your risk of developing erectile dysfunction
- Giving birth to healthy children
- Being financially better off