The science of a smoking addiction involves nicotine and the brain. Nicotine is a key chemical compound in tobacco. When you inhale this chemical it is absorbed into the blood system, findings its way to the brain. The brain is triggered to produce dopamine which relaxes the body and keeps us relaxed and calm.
Smoking over-time allows the body to look for or to depend on this emotion. But when you take away that nicotine addictive sensation, your brain sends your body into withdrawal which includes anxiety, insomnia, weight gain, decreased heart rate, and the lack of concentration. These symptoms generally last from 2 to 4 weeks and vary in intensity depending on your habit.
This is how the cigarette habit interacts in our bodies, but becoming a smoker depends on several factors, as does the attempt to stop smoking and also relapsing. Taking up cigarettes can be influenced by family members who smoke, significant others who smoke, where we work, and long-time friends who continue to smoke.
These factors contribute to how easily people can increase their likelihood of becoming a smoker for years. Many of these same factors that influence why we smoke can also contribute to our fight against the urge to smoke and finally stopping. Family, friends, co-workers, and workplace policies contribute to varying reasons that affect our thought processes for why we should stop.
Whether because of health reasons, pregnancies, being tired of being a slave to the nicotine cravings, or a religious experience, many individuals eventually do stop at least for a while. Yes, smokers know that cigarettes are not good for their health and we see commercials on TV harshly demonstrating this. Instead, smokers rationalize reasons to continue, like diseases associated with cigarettes, only happens to others or that if we smoke lighter cigarettes they are safer.
Studies also show that smokers who stop smoking fall into different categories, such as older individuals are more successful at stopping than younger smokers. Female smokers are less successful in stopping than males, and heavy smokers (those who began early in life) who smoke several packs a day are less successful to stop smoking than people who smoke a pack a day.
However, researchers in the U.K. believe that nearly three-quarters of individuals who attempt to stop this habit soon relapse within four weeks. Many smokers think that if they give up this habit that they are giving up something important that has been a part of their lives for years. This is the message that your brain is receiving on nicotine. This means that the next time you are stressed, you will want to light up a cigarette.
Research shows that individuals in lower income neighborhoods smoke the most. Lighting up on front steps with neighbors and friends is a normal group or community activity. Lower income individuals smoke to deal with the stress of life in their socio-economic situation and the struggles they go through.
Then, sooner or later, try as they might, they will soon relapse and rejoin the social community that is around them that still smokes. Lighting up in shame or guilt, they continue to smoke.
Psychologically smoking is vastly ingrained in us in so much of our everyday lives. For example, we are used to having a cigarette with a cup of coffee when we get up in the morning. When we drive to work, we enjoy smoking or after we eat lunch or dinner, we enjoy a nice smoke.
Emotionally, when former smokers become upset, bored, happy, celebratory, a cigarette is the perfect gift for themselves. To conclude, social factors can and do play a big role in smoking cessation but also in the process of relapsing.