“The worst week of life.” Why can’t I stop smoking?

Quitting smoking is extremely difficult for some of us. No wonder nicotine is highly addictive. But at the same time, it does not harm like other substances in tobacco smoke.

Anka smokes since her final exams, i.e. 22 years. He hates it and at the same time he can’t imagine starting the day without a cigarette. With a gigantic effort, she gave up smoking for two pregnancies (although she is ashamed to admit she smoked from time to time), she returned to her cigarettes shortly after giving birth like a prisoner addicted to heroin. Anka’s father had the same – he smoked like a dragon, he died of lung cancer five years ago. Then Anka seriously for the first time tried to quit smoking. From day to day she threw away all cigarettes, she decided that it was necessary to settle the matter with one “cut”. And she did it – but only for a week. – It was the worst week of my life, I couldn’t make it – says Anka with regret.

She wasn’t the only one who couldn’t cope with the addiction. Although it seems to those who have never smoked: what is this art? You just have to stop and go! Smokers, however, know it is very difficult. Not surprisingly, despite so many restrictions limiting the space for smokers, information everywhere about the harmfulness of smoking and ever higher prices of cigarettes, still more than a quarter of adults in Poland smoke. 28 percent of our compatriots are addicted to cigarettes, including 33 percent of men and 24 percent. women. Fortunately, these numbers are still falling – in 2012, 33 percent of Poles smoked. The vast majority of these people at least tried to quit smoking. Only one in twenty succeeded. Why is this so difficult?

icotin has a very strong addictive effect. The World Health Organization classifies this psychoactive substance as a drug. Not surprisingly, nicotine strongly affects brain activity by binding to acetyloholine receptors. At low doses, such as those provided by cigarettes, nicotine has a stimulating effect, slightly increasing the secretion of adrenaline. The smoker then feels a surge of energy, reduced hunger, a sense of comfort and relaxation. At the same time, nicotine stimulates the so-called dopaminergic system in the brain, associated with the feeling of pleasure. And when we begin to artificially stimulate this system, the brain loses the ability to regulate dopamine levels on its own – cheap snus

And it is this effect of nicotine on the brain that also underlies the difficulty in quitting smoking, because the brain very strongly demands nicotine, and its lack causes unpleasant withdrawal symptoms – irritability, problems with concentration, insomnia, dizziness. Smoking itself is also less and less pleasant, rather it is beginning to be treated by the smoker as something necessary for functioning and life, a trap from which there is no way out, although at its end lurking deadly lung cancer.

It is also hard to ignore the psychological and social theme – cigarettes often help in social situations or increased stress. At least that’s how smokers feel. Even reaching for the first time for cigarettes is caused not by their unique taste or impact on the brain, but just the social context associated with smoking – young people still perceive cigarettes as adding adulthood and slack, believe that smoking impresses peers and helps in conversation or at parties . In adults, some of these beliefs remain – many people quitting smoking as the most difficult situations in the initial stages of smoking cigarettes indicate just socializing or cutting off from social life rolled “on a bubble” at work.

Psychologists know very well that in smokers’ minds, like other addicts, the self-deception mechanism is very strong. Smokers not only tell themselves that without a cigarette they can’t cope with difficult situations, but they also often think: “Ah, my grandfather smoked until ninety and was as strong as a woodcutter! There has never been cancer in my family! ”It is also common belief that it is enough to change cigarettes to lighter ones with lower nicotine content and the health risk will be minimal. Nothing more wrong. The latest research shows that such actions not only do not help, but even make it difficult to quit the addiction – reports Reuters. As determined by Dr. Hilary Tindle from the University of Pittsburgh. smokers switching to “lighty” have up to 50% less chance of getting free from smoking than those who smoked ordinary cigarettes.

Researchers guess why this is happening. “Smokers probably think light cigarettes are a lot healthier and can actually be an alternative to quitting smoking altogether,” says Dr. Tindle. This is, of course, a trap, because, as scientists have already established, so-called light cigarettes are not light at all. Despite the reduced content of nicotine and tar in the lights, smokers get the same amount of smokers as in regular cigarettes. Smokers draw more on them, they also smoke more, deceived by their alleged lesser harmfulness. And already in 2004, the British Medical Journal published research showing conclusively that the risk of developing lung cancer is identical for smokers of both types of cigarettes.

Although it is nicotine that makes it so difficult to quit smoking, it is not responsible for the lethal effects of cigarettes. Tar substances resulting from tobacco burning are to blame. This is why, in the minds of scientists and doctors, many years ago the idea was born to help those who have great difficulty quitting smoking to at least reduce the harmfulness of the addiction by freeing them from inhaling tar. This so-called nicotine replacement therapy, which provides the body with nicotine, on which it is addicted, but at the same time frees it from carcinogenic smoke and the smoker himself and his surroundings.

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