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Why Is It So Hard To Stop Smoking?

By: Allen Jones
Submitted: 10/13/2006
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Every smoker knows how dangerous it is to smoke cigarettes, yet they continue to do so several times a day, every day. This leads us all to wonder, "Why would any reasonable person continue to do something like this to their own body when they know what it can do to them?"

The answer to this question is actually twofold and lies in the physical dependency on nicotine and the psychological addiction to smoking. Below, we will discuss each type of addiction and why it has such a powerful hold on cigarette smokers.

Physical Addiction to Nicotine

The physical addiction to nicotine is quickly developed when a person begins smoking cigarettes. What happens is that when a person smokes a cigarette, a drug called nicotine is introduced into their system. The nicotine acts on the cellular level in the brain and nervous system. You see, every cell in your brain and nervous system communicates with each other by sending tiny chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) to the cell it wishes to communicate with.

Nicotine mimics ones of these messengers called acetylcholine. When a smoker lights up, the nerves are tricked into believing that there is "extra" acetylcholine in the system. After a short period of time, the body seeks equilibrium and begins to grow extra acetylcholine receptors for what it thinks is extra acetylcholine, when in fact it is the nicotine. Once these extra receptors have grown, the body continues to seek equilibrium. If a smoker goes without nicotine for a period of time, the body reacts with a craving for acetylcholine (nicotine). Seeking balance, your body thinks it needs acetylcholine.

This craving can be particularly strong. The only way to alleviate this unpleasant feeling is to light up a cigarette and get the nicotine to the cells as soon as possible (which actually only takes 3-7 seconds). At this point, the smoker is physically addicted to nicotine.

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Psychological Addiction to Smoking

Psychological addiction is a bit more complicated than the physical addiction to nicotine. In short, over the years a smoker associates the act of smoking cigarettes with pleasurable things. Whether it is the pleasurable release of giving your body the nicotine it was craving, the pleasure of smoking with your buddies in the pub, the pleasure of smoking after sex or any other types of pleasurable experience, you have associated smoking with it and therefore have developed a habit of smoking in these situations. The key word here is "habit." This habit must be broken. The smoker's mind, always seeking pleasure over pain, will try anything and everything it can to talk the person into smoking a cigarette. This little "voice" in a person's mind can be overwhelmingly powerful.

Another way that people become psychologically addicted to smoking is by smoking in times of crisis or boredom. After a period of time, smokers will light up even if their body is not craving the nicotine (as we discussed above). They are smoking just to have something to do or they believe that smoking will calm their nerves. At this point, a smoker is psychologically addicted to cigarettes. Again, smoking in these situations is a habit. A smoker actually believes that smoking in these situations will "help" them.

Putting it All Together

Coupled with the physical addiction to nicotine that we discussed above, you can begin to see how difficult it really is to stop smoking cigarettes. A smoker's body and mind have been conditioned over months and years to smoke cigarettes. The power of the mind is so strong that it will convince a person to do something even when, consciously they know that it is harmful, or even fatal to them.

The only way to break this lethal combination of physical and psychological addiction is to deal with them separately, but at the same time. In other words, you must kick the physical habit using one technique and the psychological habit using another technique and you must do them simultaneously.

About The Author

Allen Jones is the owner and administrator of and an expert in nicotine addiction. Discover the stop smoking plan that eliminates both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. By taking away both types of addiction and giving you an easy to follow guide, this plan boasts a near 100% success rate. Download their free Stop Smoking Guide and find out how easy it really is to stop smoking!

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