How To Stop Smoking Part 1 – Why do we keep smoking when we know it kills us?
There are a number of reasons why people continue to smoke when they have been told of the dangers. The obvious reason is addiction. This entails having a physical, emotional and psychological need. Some people are just caught in a habit and never thought they could quit so never really tried until years later just stop.
The majority of people have an amalgamation of needs for nicotine and the physical habit of smoking.
Like other drugs and alcohol, nicotine produces an effect on the pleasure seeking centres of the brain within around 10 seconds of inhalation. A neurotransmitter called dopamine is released in the brains reward centres, it’s these feelings that its believed causes pleasure. The effects are short lived leaving the smoker seeking to maintain this sense of pleasure and look for the next cigarette.
Smoking, and the resulting rewards experienced in the brain, become associated with certain triggers. Smell, memories, situations such as having a coffee, being on the phone or having an alcohol.
Feeling pleasure can also dampen nerves or anxiety an can be associated with feeling more confident. Preconceived beliefs that smoking makes a person look tough or have more gravitas can play into triggers that cause a feeling of need for a cigarette. Also, a common, yet not widely acknowledged, form of conditioning with smoking is needing a cigarette to work out a problem or to think. This may take the form of leaving the office when stress is experienced.
Or smoking more when dealing with a personal issue.
What ever reason the mind gives for having a cigarette it will be rewarded by a release of dopamine within 10 seconds of having a cigarette reinforcing whatever excuse the smoker has used to have that next cigarette.
The benefits of continuing to smoke, as experienced directly by the smoker, become much more appealing than the standard experiences of irritability, increase in appetite, feelings of anxiety and craving, low mood and even insomnia when quitting.
Part 2 will explain how hypnosis and cognitive behaviour therapy make quitting possible.