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Why it's Hard to Quit Smoking

Any former smoker will tell you that quitting isn't easy. A testament to that: The American Cancer Society says 70 percent of smokers want to quit but well over half of those that want to quit never even attempt to do so. That means out of 100 smokers that want to quit nearly 60 won't even try.

Some say it's because quitting is so difficult and quitting for good often requires multiple attempts. In fact, if you were addicted to both heroine and nicotine, smoking would probably be more difficult of the two.

So, why is it so hard to quit?

The simple answer is nicotine addiction, but it is not so simple. It's two-fold. There is physical addiction and psychological addiction.

Physical Addiction
Nicotine is naturally occurring drug in tobacco. When you inhale smoke from a cigarette, nicotine spreads throughout the body and messes up the link between nerve cells. This communication breakdown between cells causes you to have a relaxing feeling. When that feeling passes the body craves the feeling again, craves the nicotine, so you want to smoke more. Like drinking alcohol, the more you smoke the more your tolerance builds and more cigarettes are needed to get, and sustain, that buzz.

While trying to quit the physical addiction will cause nicotine withdrawal. The absence of nicotine will cause your body to react with symptoms such as:

Psychological Addiction
Over long periods of time as a smoker, a person will begin to use the buzz achieved by nicotine to either mask pain or sorrow and help deal with unpleasant situations or improve and add to the enjoyment of other activities.

If physical addiction were the only issue, there may be a higher success rate for quitting. But dealing with physical dependence and the psychological addiction simultaneously can be overwhelming. Because cigarettes can be used as an aide, this tool for coping, the attachment is stronger. These addictions take such a hold on people that the FDA says an astonishing 50 percent of people who survive surgery for lung cancer due to smoking will reach for a cigarette during recovery.

Smoking becomes linked to so many day to day routines that quitting can affect every part of your life. Talking on the phone, finishing a meal, having a beer or morning coffee, driving, winding down after a long day are all things that may prompt the desire to smoke. And getting angry, frustrated, scared or embarrassed can do the same thing.

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