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Smoking And The Two Intertwined Components Of The Addiction

Smoking tobacco is, without a doubt, one of the most hazardous habits nowadays and statistics indicate that more people succumb from smoking-related conditions than any other factor with similar levels of risk. Although the levels of social acceptance towards tobacco products are rapidly declining in most parts of the world, the habit has not yet been outlawed and smokers are not perceived with the same negative attitude as an alcoholic or a drug addict.

True enough, smoking does not manifest through violent behavioral modifications and does not impair a person’s ability to work/drive/interact with others. This is most likely the primary reason why people include tobacco in the category of low-risk drugs – nicotine is in fact a drug with strong addictive properties – and it also explains why tobacco manufacturers are tolerated.

Why do we become addicted to smoking?
In regards to the addictive nature of cigarettes, I have seen numerous guides that support either the theory that the smoker cannot quit the vice because of the nicotine cravings and others that suggest the reflexive nature of the smoking gesture is actually the most difficult thing to beat. However, so far I have noticed that extremely few “specialists” debate the possibility that the habit might be based on a combination of the two. In my opinion, on its own neither the psychological component nor the chemical addiction could exercise a sufficiently powerful driving force that could keep the smoker relapsing every time he tries to quit cold turkey.

Can you back that up?
This theory is relatively easy to prove. First of all, in the event that the psychological component would play no role in the addiction, then nicotine patches would have 100% success rate in helping a smoker kick the vice, which obviously they don’t. On the other hand, studies indicate that the ex-smokers often experience nicotine cravings during the night hours, when the body is supposed to be asleep and therefore, the reflexes should present a problem. The explanation for this is the nicotine withdrawal symptom.

So how does the psychological addiction manifest?
Before I explain this component, I want to note that psychology is also applied by the tobacco companies in order to trick people into smoking in the first place. Most teens take on this habit due to peer pressure, the desire to be part of the “cool crowd”, rebellion, asserting maturity/independence, etc., that’s entirely true.

On the other hand, the advertisements that present the “glamorous” world of smokers which often feature influential exponents of the generation – Humphrey Bogart, Penny Jennings, Albert Einstein (OK, he preferred the pipe, but that’s still tobacco) – create an irresistible desire for the younger crowd to smoke and become just as cool.

In regards to the addiction, it is typically based on the Pavlovian reflex theory. To put it simply, Pavlov was the first researcher to effectively prove the existence of reflexes as well as determine a way to control them. He actually managed to make a dog’s salivary glands activate when he heard the sound that it associated with feeding time, in spite of the fact that he was not given any. This applies in a similar manner, because a smoker will always correlate cigarettes with other activities such as:

  • Drinking the morning coffee
  • Consuming beer and other alcoholic beverages
  • Passing the time while waiting for another person or an event to happen
  • After sexual intercourse
  • Driving the automobile
  • Socializing with fellow smokers

What about the physiological component?
First of all, the nicotine acts by conducting substantial structural modifications in the chemistry of the brain. The timeframe in which the nicotine manages to reach the brain following the inhalation of the cigarette smoke is approximately 10 seconds, after which the brain begins to release the “happiness hormones” known as dopamine. However, over time the brain is no longer satisfied with the original amount of nicotine and requires that you feed it an incremental quantity in order to experience the same results. This is also why a smoker gradually increases the number of cigarettes he smokes on a regular basis.

Conclusions
A smoking aid that addresses only one of the components of this habit usually turns out to be ineffective. Kicking the vice is even more difficult without one and the side effects will typically be enough to cause a relapse. So far, electronic cigarettes are the products that have proven most effective for the job, because they incorporate both the gesture and the nicotine addiction, without generating the harmful, combustion-related substances.

Hello, I’m Chad and now that I have successfully given up smoking via one of the basic electronic cigarette starter kits. I want to let other people know that these aids really do work!


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