Smoking accounts for about 100,000 deaths per year in the United Kingdom. In 2012 and 2013, it was estimated that 5% of hospital admissions of adults aged 35 and older are due to smoking. While most smokers are aware of the health implications of the habit, many find it hard to quit because of the withdrawal symptoms and tobacco cravings. But if you are thinking of quitting smoking, know that there are ways on how to fight the nicotine cravings. Published by Hypnosis in London on 23 May 2016, written by Malminder Gill.
A single cigarette contains about 600 ingredients. When it burns, it creates around 700 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Aside from increasing the risk of lung cancer, cigarette smoking also alters the mood because of its nicotine content, increases risk for eye problems like macular degeneration, causes skin discoloration, increases risk for oral problems, and could affect one’s reproductive system.
Despite these health effects of smoking, many people still find it hard to quit. And nicotine has something to do with it.
Why Smoking is Hard to Quit
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. It stimulates the reward system of the brain. When a person attempts to quit smoking, he/she experiences withdrawal symptoms. These include flu-like symptoms, smoking cravings, sleep problems, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, headache, chest tightness, and sore throat. These symptoms can make the person so uncomfortable that he/she gets back to smoking to relieve him/her of the symptoms.
What is Nicotine Craving?
Hours after the last cigarette, a smoker would start to feel irritable, depressed, or anxious. He/she would then start to feel the need to light another cigarette and the cycle continues. This happens as a result of the brain’s adaptive ability.
The brain adapts with smoking by creating nicotine receptors. These receptors trigger a chain of reaction that gives a smoker a feeling of satisfaction or pleasure. The more you smoke, the more nicotine receptors are created by the brain. As a result, the brain becomes more accustomed to the certain amount of nicotine. When it goes below that, the smoker starts to become irritable and craves to smoke again. This cycle continues until something is done to fight off the nicotine craving.
Fighting the Nicotine Craving
In order to effectively quit smoking, one thing that smokers should focus on is getting rid of nicotine craving. It can be done in several ways:
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
In the nicotine replacement therapy, nicotine is introduced in the brain more slowly. It can be through the use of a gum, lozenges, patches, and nasal spray. Nicotine is less addictive through this method because it is introduced in the brain slower than cigarettes. Smokers typically find it easy to quit cigarette smoking after 12 weeks of being in nicotine replacement therapy.
There are also prescription drugs that can help in fighting off nicotine cravings. One of these is varenicline. In the brain, varenicline looks like nicotine and attaches itself to the acetylcholine receptor. It helps stop the cravings because it keeps the nicotine from getting attached into the receptors.
Cognitive-behavioral strategies can be used to fight nicotine craving. When you find yourself thinking of lighting another cigarette again, think of the motivation you have for quitting it on the first place. It can be for health, for living longer, or for saving money.
Another strategy to distract your mind from this craving is through doing something to divert your attention. You may want to watch a movie, visit a museum, or go to the park. Cravings usually go away after 5 to 10 minutes.
You can also give hypnotherapy a try. At Hypnosis in London, I offer a 7-day online hypnosis program for those who want to quit smoking. This program can help you boost your willpower to quit smoking and fight nicotine cravings. This is a good alternative if you can’t meet me in person for a one-on-one session. Please see the downloads section for more information.
There’s nothing good with cigarette smoking. It harms your body, shortens your life, and costs you a lot of money. It may be hard to quit but know that help is available to help you put an end to it.