Quitting smoking? How’s it going?
There was a conversation over coffee the other day about whether people who smoke consider themselves addicts. Realistically, they’re addicts – perhaps varying degrees of addiction but addiction nevertheless. But do they think of themselves as addicts and therefore consider an addiction recovery program as a stop-smoking option?
Most of the recognized addictions in our society – alcohol, gambling, heroin, for example - are supported with specific programs. Some programs have peer support groups, others have some version of a 12-step program.
Smokers, on the other hand, often try to go it alone.
“I can quit anytime I want.”
Cigarettes are both a physical and psychological addiction making the dependency tough to crack. The nicotine in cigarettes is a highly addictive substance. Nicotine alters the balance of two chemicals in your brain – dopamine and noradrenaline. The alteration to these chemicals changes your mood and concentration. Inhaled nicotine rushes to your brain giving almost immediate feelings of pleasure and reducing stress and anxiety.
The psychological side of cigarette addiction is how smoking wheedles its way into so many corners of your life. That first cigarette in the morning with your coffee, the cigarette after meals, the cigarette when you’re on the phone. The context of smoking is different for almost everyone and breaking out of those psychological habits can be more challenging than getting over the physical nicotine addiction.
The actor, Kirk Douglas, told a story about his father and his own smoking cessation. Boiled down, Mr. Douglas’ father was told to quit smoking by his doctor; he agreed and put one cigarette in his shirt pocket. When he felt the urge to smoke, he’d take out the cigarettes and ask it, “Who’s stronger? You or me”. He was always stronger than that cigarette. When Mr. Douglas decided to quit, he followed his father’s lead.
For many tackling cigarette addiction, it takes more than just slapping on a nicotine patch or talking to the cigarette in your pocket. It may include mindfulness training, massage therapy, nutrition counselling and other disciplines that can help set you up for success.
If you are still smoking but want to quit, think about tackling it with an individualized, planned and supported program. For more information on the Addiction Recovery Program, including smoking cessation, call us at 519-937-1881.