Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things anyone can do. But giving up cigarettes doesn’t have to be as hard and lonely a task as it once was. Modern quitters are can enjoy a wide range of options when it comes to support, digest a wealth of digital resources, and understand why giving up can be very, very difficult. So, what exactly makes cigarettes so addictive and what help do you have when it comes to giving up smoking for good?
Why are cigarettes addictive?
Cigarettes are addictive for two key reasons – they foster chemical and psychological dependence. Each and every tobacco cigarette contains a chemical known as nicotine. This is a powerful stimulant and gives cigarettes their signature kick - while also ending up staining your fingers, teeth, and even your home. In addition to stimulating your nervous system, nicotine is highly addictive and can serious cause damage to your body over long periods of time. Heavy smoking results in elevated in blood pressure and the ‘hardening’ of your arteries through plaque deposits. In addition, the body quickly gets used to a steady supply of nicotine which causes an adjustment to the balance of dopamine in your brain. This fosters dependency and deprivation can lead to mood swings, headaches, irritability, and increased feelings of stress and anxiety. In addition to chemical dependency, it’s easy to get psychologically hooked on cigarettes as well. Having a puff provides a heady rush similar to that of caffeine. This gives even the most exhausted office worker an extra bit of ‘oomph’ to get through the day, a difficult board meeting, or gruelling conversation. A physical cigarette is also a useful social crutch and can give a bit of extra confidence when chatting with individuals or as a conversation starter with those looking for a lighter or some tobacco for a roll-up. Some users are even reluctant to give them up due to a fear of missing out on chats during the workday or having a natter outside the pub on a Saturday night. Acknowledging chemical and psychological dependence is a key part of quitting successfully and can be extremely difficult. But not impossible.
What happens after you quit?
Simply, things are awful…then get better very quickly! Once you’ve decided to quit, the first few days can be agony. Your body actively craves the routine of a cigarette and your brain struggles to find chemical equilibrium. The lack of nicotine can leave you feeling tired, irritable, and woolly-headed. While this can be temporarily balanced out by grabbing a coffee and undertaking some exercise, it’s important to give quitting a few days to let the nicotine start to leave your body and allow adrenaline and serotonin ‘reset’ your brain. But, if you stick with it, the benefits can be profound. These include-
Increased taste and smell: A few days after your last cigarette the nerve endings that have been damaged by smoke exposure start to grow back. This means that you can begin to smell and taste things with greater clarity, reducing your reliance on strong seasonings or harmful salt.
Improved skincare and general health: A week or so after your last cigarette, your circulatory system starts to recover and benefit from the increased oxygen now entering your bloodstream. This can give you a new blush of health alongside your skin clearing up after being exposed to harmful carcinogens.
Extra Lung capacity: Three days after your last cigarette, the alveoli in your lungs start to repair themselves. This leads to the opening of the bronchial tubes which feed directly into your lungs. This stops the shortness of breath common to many smokers and makes air exchange much easier, allowing you to enjoy your favourite activities for longer.
Lifted Mood: After an initial period of unbalance, your body chemistry begins to return to normal. This can leave you feeling less worried and more able to cope with challenges at work or home. However, it is worth thinking about whether you chose to take up cigarettes to actively help with stress management. If this is the case, many of those triggers will still be there even after quitting. Take some time to meditate on the challenges in your life and always try to take meaningful steps to create a manageable workload for yourself.
More money!: Aside from the wealth of biological incentives, it’s worth remembering that the average pack of cigarettes currently costs just over a tenner. Research has found that that the average smoker goes through 11.3 cigarettes per day – making it a costly habit of around £40 per week or just over two grand per year! Quitting can free up enough money for a gym membership, a holiday…or a new Xbox.
The future of quitting
When it comes to smoking, the modern quitter is spoiled for choice. Thanks to decades of medical research, we understand the nature of addiction better than ever before. This allows professionals and companies to use the internet to distribute a wealth of useful resources dedicated to helping you stop smoking. These come in three key channels.
Technology: If you’re struggling there are a number of smartphone apps available. Two of our favourites include MyQuitCoach and Quitnow. These allow you to create a program that’s tailored for you and make tracking your progress easier than ever before. Of course, media messaging can also let you get in touch with supportive friends who can help you on your journey and be a part of celebrating your key milestones.
Support: If you are struggling psychologically or physically, there are a wealth of options and resources available through the NHS to help with your addiction. Other sites like Verywellmind have a range of solid articles that can help you manage your cravings and provide helpful guidance when you need it most.
Equipment: While vaping carries no guarantee of helping you quit, many individuals have seen the value of making it part of your post-smoking routine. Our website includes a range of products that replicate the look and feel of a cigarette with your choice of e liquid.
Nicotine Vapes: If you’re still struggling to deal with your cravings, selecting a nicotine salt infused e liquid can help fight off moments of weakness. Choosing a vape lets you enjoy an instant ‘hit’ of nicotine, meaning they can have more flexibility than patches – though it is important to consider and try every option available when it comes to helping you quit. If you want further information about our range of products, you can check out our regularly updated store page.