Logically speaking, we all know that cigarettes, which are full of toxins of the worst kind, are nothing even close to being your "friend." Emotionally, however, years of tobacco use have taught us that cigarettes help us with everything from boredom to anger management. We've learned to look at smoking as a buddy that helps us cope.
The Truth About Smoking Pleasure
As smokers, we live in an almost constant state of nicotine withdrawal, from the first cigarette of the day until the last.
As soon as we stub out a cigarette, the level of nicotine in the bloodstream begins to drop, signaling the start of nicotine withdrawal. Within a half hour, we're thinking about the next cigarette, and by the one-hour mark, most smokers are edgy and uncomfortable.
We light a cigarette and within a few puffs, the discomforts ease up. Chemically, we've gotten that dopamine rush that comes when nicotine attaches to receptors in our brains. The fidgety tension is gone and we're back to feeling comfortable. It won't last long, though, because within a half hour to an hour, the process will repeat itself. It is this pattern of nicotine depletion and replenishment in the bloodstream that we have learned to think of as "smoking pleasure."
Over time, that physical need, which is all about addiction, gets attached to every emotion and event in our lives. And like Pavlov's dogs, we learn to crave a cigarette when difficult emotions come, even if the nicotine level in our bloodstream is topped off. Smoking has become our "friend," our "companion" in times of stress.
If You Want to Change Your Life, Change Your Mind.
True and lasting recovery from nicotine addiction must involve changing our relationship to smoking. We have to coax out all of the fallacies we've taught ourselves over the years and look at them in the light of day.