You have been smoking for a while and you have matured. Now you know that smoking has not made you smarter, or cooler, or sexier. Smoking has not helped you to achieve your goals. Your accomplishments have been made in spite of smoking, but you are more aware that your health suffers. You can tell by your burning eyes, your hacking cough, and the phlegm in your throat. So, why do you still smoke? Most people continue smoking out of habit. They light a cigarette without even thinking. But sometimes people smoke under specific situations as a kind of ritual. Associating activities with smoking establishes Pavlovian reflexes. Pavlovian reflexes are named after Dr. Ivan Pavlov who was able to make his dogs salivate in the absence of food by just ringing a bell that had been associated with the dog's feeding time. In the same way, activities that you have associated with smoking, such as drinking coffee, will act as triggers. The mere sight of a cup of coffee will cause you to reach for your cigarettes without any conscious thought. Seeing friends smoking cigarettes, watching movies where the actors smoke, or the smell of cigarette smoke may trigger the psychological desire to smoke.
These are some of the reasons why people smoke:
- No particular reason, but the cigarettes are handy
- To reduce a feeling of anxiety or nervousness
- To calm down when upset or angry
- To socialize with other smokers
- When feeling restless
- As relaxation
- To take a break from work
- While having coffee or tea
- When having a drink with friends
- To satisfy an urge to smoke
- After a meal
- After sex
- To pass the time while waiting for someone.
- When driving in the car
- When feeling depressed
- When drinking beer, wine, or liquor
- To celebrate something
- To think about a difficult problem
Researchers have found that smokers with a damaged insula, a region of the brain linked to emotion and feelings, quit smoking easily and immediately. The study provides direct evidence that addiction to nicotine in tobacco smoke takes control of some of the neural circuits in the brain.
Go through this list and think about what you would do under each of these circumstances if you do smoke. You need to start thinking about how you are going to cope in these situations without using tobacco.