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No Smoking Day - Why we are so emotionally reliant on cigarettes

Posted in: General Health 14 Mar, 2012

I recently spoke to a friend who revealed that they were still smoking because they needed it to stabilise their mood and help them deal with stress and, unsurprisingly, this is the case with many of us who smoke. But surely there has to be other ways in which one can stay happy and stable without the need of smoking? Obviously there are people who manage to do so quite successfully after they give up smoking. The key, it would seem, could be to deal with the actual factors that are causing you to turn to cigarettes to help you cope better, say experts.

Smoking is different things to different people

The whole reason behind why people develop the emotional need to smoke has to do with how nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes affect the brain. It doesn’t just provide relief in stressful times, to some people smoking is a stimulant or a way to cope with boredom or depression. But why can smoking have such a varied effect on the brain? It’s mostly to do with all the different chemicals found in cigarettes.

The stimulating effects of nicotine

Nicotine is a stimulant that has similar effects on your body to amphetamine and cocaine. Each time you smoke a cigarette it provides you with a boost, making you feel more alert and awake; this is largely because it increases your heart rate and blood pressure. However, this effect doesn’t last very long and within 20 minutes nicotine receptors start making you feel like you need another boost. This means that next time you have a smoke; you feel a false sense of enjoyment, because it’s simply the addiction being satisfied rather than a lasting benefit. In this way, like most addictions, smoking becomes self-perpetuating.

Smoking takes off the edge

Acetaldehyde and carbon monoxide inside cigarettes, act as sedatives, making you feel relaxed relieving you from any tension, anxiety or other unpleasant emotions. So when you do feel stressed or unhappy, it’s quite easy to turn to cigarettes as a way to help you process your emotions better. However, it’s all just a temporary solution and all the other negative effects smoking has on your body, can eventually just contribute to making you more prone to feeling depressed or stressed. There is research that suggests that smoking might even reduce the ability of ‘feel good’ receptors in the brain to control mood, because of continuous artificial stimulation.

Reducing your emotional need to smoke

When you know why you smoke and how it affects your body, it means that you are better able to identify the triggers that cause you to light up. It’s not always possible to eliminate stress and other emotions from your life, but how you deal with them could be substituted for something less destructive to your health. So instead of turning to a cigarette to help you feel better, you could use other methods to cope, gradually reducing your emotional need to smoke, which could make it easier for you to quit. Today is National No Smoking Day, so why not make a change right now?


  • RacyWednesday, Aug 08, 2012

    I agree. I quit a year ago and now i feel better because when you addicted of something it will harm you as well as no one respects you. An addicted person have no social life no one take him/her seriously. There are many disadvantages of smoking cigarette like : -1]It will cause you cancer.2]It will kill you slowly.3]It also contains hydrogen cyanide: the poison used in gas chambers.And till now i didn't find any of the advantage of smoking so lets stand against smoking.

  • NikkiWednesday, Mar 14, 2012

    I really want to give up, but it's really difficult!! I've tried before and I was just a nightmare to live with... so now I am scared I won't cope.

  • PhilipWednesday, Mar 14, 2012

    True story, stress is a big problem, I always used to smoke more when things were tough and then when they got better I somehow just felt the need a little less.

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