When Rajesh turned 13, his friends gifted him a pack of cigarettes and a lighter as the teenage welcomes gift. Rajesh resisted initially, but they tried to convince him that he needed it as he had grown up now. They also threatened to break their friendship with him. To maintain the friendship, Rajesh finally gave up and started smoking.
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Milind started smoking as most of the elders in his family were smokers and he thought it to be normal.
Manas started smoking because his favorite actor too smoked. Manas thought it was cool to smoke and a nice way to show his masculinity and impress the girls.
Hardik was preparing for his engineering exams and had to study for long hours; his friends suggested him to smoke so that he remains active to study.
Nisha was a team leader and used to be stressed due to work pressure. This made her irritable. Her colleagues once asked her to take a few puffs from his cigarette. Now, she finds solace in smoking a cigarette.
As you see everyone had their reasons to start smoking and most of the examples were under 20 when they started smoking. Teens and adolescents are the most vulnerable and easily influenced. This is the age when they start to explore the world around them and are trying to create an identity for themselves. They mostly get influenced by their favorite idol, be it a teacher, a cousin, a leader, or an actor.
The journey of most of the smokers usually starts with a few puffs, becomes a habit, and finally ends up in an addiction. According to the statistics of WHO, tobacco kills 8 million people each year. Smoking is one form in which people use tobacco. In this article, let us see why people get addicted to smoking although it has so many known health hazards.
Tobacco contains many harmful chemicals and nicotine is one of them. Nicotine is what causes addiction. When a person smokes tobacco, the nicotine from the smoke enters our body and reaches the reward center of our brain. There it stimulates the secretion of dopamine, a chemical that is responsible for giving the smoker a feel-good feeling. It improves the person’s mood and temporarily reduces unpleasant thoughts. The effects of nicotine fade after a while and the smokers return to reality. To go through the same pleasant feelings, the person reaches out for another cigarette and thus gets into the cycle. Experts say that nicotine is as addicting as heroin or cocaine.
It is important to note that, as the person continues to smoke, the body gets used to the levels of nicotine in the blood and the intensity and duration of pleasurable effects lessen. To maintain the same effects, he now needs to increase the frequency of smoking. Functioning with a certain level of nicotine in the blood now becomes normal for that person. If the required levels are not maintained, the person starts to develop withdrawal symptoms. In this way, a person can become addicted to smoking. Studies show that the person is likely to get addicted if he has started smoking at a very young age.
A smoker becomes physically as well as emotionally dependent on smoking as he tries to link them to the daily events. Some people report that they cannot pass stools in the morning without smoking, while others say they can think more clearly after smoking. Hence, when a person tries to quit smoking, he not just gets the withdrawal effect on the physical level but also feels mentally depressed because now he will no longer get the benefits that smoking offered. People who take up smoking to escape the stress and negative emotions are more severely affected.
This is the reason smoking is the hardest of all the addictions to quit. Many people return to their addiction a few months after they quit smoking.
What Are the Withdrawal Effects of Smoking?
When a person smokes, the number of nicotine receptors in his brain increases. When he stops smoking, these receptors do not get the expected nicotine and begin to adjust which causes the craving and withdrawal symptoms. The person may experience a combination of any of these unpleasant symptoms.
Craving for smoking
Irritability and impatience
Uneasiness and restlessness
Trouble in concentrating
Difficulty in breathing
Trouble in falling asleep
Throat irritation and cough
These symptoms start to appear within a day of quitting smoking, will increase for the next 2-3 days, and gradually subside in a week. However, it takes 3-4 months to overcome these symptoms completely.
How Does One Know That He is Addicted to Smoking?
You get to know that you are addicted to smoking when:
1.If you cannot think of giving up smoking.
2.You experience withdrawal symptoms if you are unable to smoke for a while.
3.You avoid situations where you are unable to smoke. For instance, you avoid going to family functions with elders or kids where you cannot smoke out of consideration or you visit only such places that have special smoking zones.
4.You continue smoking even when you are ill.
Even though smoking causes addiction, the good news is that the smoking rates are falling all over the countries in the world due to the efforts of the governments to educate the people about the hazards of smoking. According to a report published by WHO, there will be a reduction of almost 10 million tobacco users by 2020 as compared to that in 2018 and another 27 million less by 2025. (Source: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/19-12-2019-who-launches-new-report-on-global-tobacco-use-trends)