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Why It's So Hard to Quit Smoking

By Edited Feb 17, 2016 0 2

Did you know that 70% of smokers in the United States today say that they wish they could quit? Why, then, is the tobacco industry making millions of dollars on American smokers?

The answer lies in nicotine, and in the nature of cigarettes themselves. Nicotine actually changes the structure of your brain to make it need the nicotine. When there isn't any nicotine in the system, the brain goes into withdrawals because it now starts signals to you that it needs the nicotine to get by.

Cigarettes themselves do a good job getting the nicotine to your brain. Within ten seconds of each inhale, the nicotine has gone to the brain, making the smoker feel more alert and more calm. Not only does the brain's structure change to include nicotine as a necessary component, it also starts connecting it to your daily routine. Have a cigarette after breakfast a few times? Soon, your brain will tell you that the post-breakfast cigarette is necessary. Go out for your smoke break at the same time every day? Soon you'll start getting antsy if you have to be in a long meeting during the time when you normally go out to smoke. The really insidious thing about nicotine addiction is that it turns our own brain against us.

This creates extra problems for people trying to quit. They first have to overcome the addiction to nicotine itself - not a small feat. But in addition to that, they have to overcome the smoking habits to stop feeling the urge to light a cigarette at those times of day when they always did. This is why a big part of quitting is creating new habits that replace the old nicotine-craving ones.

Because the draw is so strong, nearly 90% of the people who just quit cold turkey are smoking again in 6 months. This doesn't mean they have failed (most people have to try a few times before they've really quit) but it does mean they have to start again. One of the nice things about things like nicotine patches is that they can ease the nicotine out of the system so that resisting the cravings isn't as difficult, which helps to free up time to break other habits. That doesn't always mean it will be smooth-sailing to quitting, but it can make the quitting more feasible more quickly.

Quitting is worth it, so do whatever it takes to get out of the habit and to get rid of the craving.



Jun 18, 2010 1:14pm
Smoking is such a horrible addiction. I greatly admire the individuals that are able to break the addiction and get back to a healthier lifestyle!
Jul 21, 2011 1:58pm
The longer you smoke the harder it is to break the habit. I quit for about one year, then went back to it again, wishing I had not.
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