It probably started innocently enough. It may have started as an impressionable Teen. We want to “Be Cool” in front of our friends. We thought it made us look “Grown Up”. So we continued to smoke with seeming impunity.
Then we woke up one day and suddenly we “Needed to have it”….
We had crossed the line to addiction.
How Did This Happen?
The causes of smoking are in our thinking. It is not the nicotine. The nicotine simply releases the brain chemical Dopamine into our system.
Dopamine is known as the “Feel Good” drug. We crave the Dopamine. The nicotine attaches itself to brain receptors and releases the Dopamine.
The constant release of Dopamine has changed our brain chemistry and the way we think about it. This is why you see Smokers relapse after long periods of not smoking…. The nicotine is gone after 72 hours… It isn’t the nicotine.
Many Smokers relapse after long periods of not smoking because they have not treated the cause of the problem. They have only treated the symptom.
You have not “stopped smoking” until you kick the nicotine that causes you to crave another dose of Dopamine. This is why Vaping and NRT therapies have such poor success rates.
Using NRT of any kind (including vaping) is an attempt to get the benefits of not smoking without dealing with the mental process necessary to truly stopping. It simply amounts to little more than switching addictions.
By the time an individual grows dependent on their substance(s) of choice, both their body and mind is reliant on the substances, which has now become full-blown addiction.
Smoking Addiction Symptoms
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance (DABDA) are the 5 stages of drug addiction recovery.
Yes, these are also the 5 stages of Grief. We actually grieve the loss of smoking just as we grieve the loss of a Loved One.
This is the Insanity of Denial and the insanity of Addiction.
Nicotine is the chemical in tobacco that keeps you smoking. Nicotine that gets into your body through cigarettes activates structures normally present in your brain called receptors.
When these receptors are activated, they release a brain chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel good. This pleasure response to dopamine is a big part of the nicotine addiction process.
Over time, as you continue to smoke, the number of nicotine receptors in your brain increases. Addicted Smokers have billions more of these receptors than do Non-Smokers.
Denial and Addiction
Throwing away cigarettes and ashtrays, etc is of no help whatsoever…
I learned something about Denial and that only Honesty will defeat Denial. Until I could get Honest, I couldn’t recover from my own addiction. This will become a key concept for you, too.
As Smokers, we lie to ourselves continually. ( This is necessary to continuing the poor behavior,) We do not want to face the truth and we do not want to take responsibility for our own actions.
An even more important reason lies in the psychological damage we have done to ourselves. If we throw away the cigarettes, we do not smoke only for as long as there are no cigarettes to smoke.
As soon as they become available, we smoke because we have not trained the mind on “How to Not Smoke”.
To make stopping smoking even more difficult, the brain receptors can be conditioned to expect nicotine in certain situations long after you have stopped smoking.
For example, if you regularly smoke when you drink alcohol, or when you are in a stressful situation, or after a meal, the nicotine receptors in your brain anticipate the dopamine rush from nicotine at that time.
These “trigger” situations can cause intense cravings for a cigarette, even if you have stopped smoking for several months or even many years.
The good news is that once you stop smoking entirely, the number of nicotine receptors in your brain will eventually return to normal.
An approach that uses no drugs should be the preferred approach. It is best to limit those choices to Behavior Modification, Hypnosis, Acupuncture, or Abstinence Psychotherapy.
Since we cannot ever control what might or might not trigger an urge, evasion of the problem usually fails, sooner or later.
Only by treating the errant thinking are we able to successfully stop smoking in the long term.
An effective long term solution is to directly treat the faulty thinking so that we can be at peace with ourselves and enjoy being Ex-Smokers under any and all circumstances.
Let’s meet in the Winner’s Circle.