“Quit smoking” is probably the number one new year’s resolution across the world. A survey has found that 80% of smokers would like to quit the bad habit, but less than 5% are able to quit on their own. So if the desire is there, then why is it so difficult to stop? Here are a few reasons why so many people find it hard to kick their smoking habit.
Because nicotine hi-jacks the dopamine system, it is highly addictive. However, the greater problem with the addiction is the withdrawal. Typical nicotine withdrawal symptoms include: flu-like aches and discomfort, irritability, sleep problems, fatigue, and cravings. It is these uncomfortable feelings which deter people from wanting to actually stop smoking. Most people would rather keep smoking than experience these uncomfortable feelings.
- The social triggers
Smoking is as much a psychological thing as it is a physical thing. Our brain is a very powerful tool and we believe what it tells us, whether it is true or not. For example, most smokers tell themselves that if they are unable to smoke it will not be that much fun, thus they start to believe that in order for something to be fun they need to smoke (which is of course not true). Let us have a look at this scenario… A smoker is invited to a social gathering. Normally, this person would smoke while socialising, but now find themselves unable to smoke, and thus believe they are unable to socialize. Or, another scenario: the smoker is regarded by others as a fun person, but would others still regard them as fun if they did not smoke?
Smoking is a strongly ingrained habit which is the “be all and end all” for many smokers. More often than not, before a smoker begins with a task, they will tell you “I will start after this smoke,” and then once they have completed the task, they will have a smoke to signal the end of that activity. For example, a smoker would smoke a cigarette before embarking on a journey and would then light another cigarette the minute they arrive at their destination. Because it is such a strong habit, many smokers don’t realise that their smoking is so detrimental, and therefore they do not see the need to stop. If you want to find out how strong your smoking habit is, keep a smoking journal and write down when, where and how many cigarettes you smoke.
- Inadequate coping mechanisms
David Long has said that the relationship between tobacco smoking and stress has been a point of discussion for many years, as adult smokers are of the opinion that they need to smoke to relax or to help them deal with stress better. Thus, many smokers are reluctant to give up their stress coping mechanism. However, smokers report experiencing more stress than non-smokers and, furthermore, when they do stop smoking, they gradually become less stressed. Research has indicated that people who smoke have less effective emotional coping mechanisms.
- The fear of failure
I have met many smokers in my life and almost all of them have told me that they would be able to quit at any time, if they wanted to. I always wondered why it was so important to them to say that they are able to stop if they choose to do so. I then did some research and found out that some smokers are afraid to quit smoking, because they are afraid that they will not be able to quit (classic human fear of failure).
There are probably many more reasons people will give you as to why it is so hard to quit smoking, but are these true reasons, or only excuses and ways to protect their addiction?