Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. When inhaled, it reaches the brain in approximately 7 seconds. Nicotine, a psychoactive drug, triggers the release of brain chemicals which results in CNS stimulation. Dopamine, one of these chemicals, activates the reward or pleasure center in the brain causing the user to experience a pleasurable effect and is thought to be responsible for the effects which reinforce continued use and dependency.
People smoke for many different reasons. Common reasons individuals give for why they smoke are:
- To relax and calm down
- As a way to manage stress or anxiety
- To reward themselves and take a break from their hectic schedule
- Out of habit
- As a part of socializing with friends
- Because their bodies physically crave Nicotine, a highly addictive drug
- To wake themselves up, give themselves a boost or help them to concentrate
Some people find they smoke more often when engaging in their routine day to day activities, like talking on the phone, driving in their car, after eating a meal or with their coffee/tea, often reaching for that cigarette automatically. Others say they instantly reach for a cigarette when they feel stressed or anxious. Some people find themselves lighting up one cigarette after another without even realizing they are doing it. Yet others say it the physical cravings for a cigarette that keeps them hooked.
To understand why you often reach for that cigarette, sometimes without even realizing it, ask yourself some of the following questions:
- When do I smoke?
- Where do I smoke?
- What am I doing when I smoke?
- Who am I with when I smoke?
- How am I feeling when I smoke?
Tips for Reducing
Cutting down is a strategy used by many people as they work toward becoming smoke-free. Instead of having that cigarette, ask yourself:
- Do I really need this cigarette right now or can I wait longer before having it?
- Is there something else I can do to occupy my mind to keep me from thinking about having a cigarette?
- Is there something I can do to keep my hands busy so I don’t want to reach for that cigarette?
- Can I use strategies, like deep breathing or other relaxations techniques to help reduce my stress and keep me from smoking?
- Do I say positive things to myself and try to focus on all the steps I am taking toward becoming smoke-free instead of only speaking negatively to myself about the things I feel I can’t do?
Use the Four D’s as a way to help cope with the withdrawal symptoms from Nicotine:
- DELAY - A craving for cigarette lasts only 5-7 minutes. The urge will pass whether or not you light up. Try delaying your morning cigarette by .5 hr or 1 hour. Try smoking during only odd or even hours of the day or carrying only the number of cigarettes you wish to smoke with you that day.
- DRINK WATER - Drink plenty of water and/or fruit juices. This will help expel the Nicotine from your body faster.
- DEEP BREATHING - Taking time out to practice slow, deep, rhythmic breathing will help you to manage stress and tension associated with quitting smoking while helping you to wait out the craving you experience to smoke.
- DO SOMETHING ELSE - Having activities or events to plan for can help take your mind off the urge to smoke. Keeping your hands occupied and your mind busy often helps people delay and/reduce the amount they smoke.
Or, make your home and vehicle smoke-free, get your teeth cleaned or get a support buddy.
Canada leads the world in healthy public policy to prevent individuals from being exposed to second hand smoke.
Nova Scotia became the first Canadian province to ban smoking in vehicles with children under the age of 19.
Watch the Big Screen! There is an increasing amount of smoking in movies. The tobacco industry wants you to think it is cool to smoke and that everyone smokes, so you should too.
A common cause for relapse among ex-smokers is when they say to themselves, “I will just have one!” Usually this way of thinking leads the individual back to smoking the same amount soon after.
Nicotine Replacements Therapies, like the Nicotine Patch, Gum, Lozenge and Inhaler are available to help people manage their physical withdrawal symptoms from Nicotine.
Prescription medications are also available to assist you in quitting.