Psychological Addiction to Smoking

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

Dr. Howell

Whenever you buy cigarettes, you always see a label telling you that smoking is dangerous to health. You are not stupid. You are completely aware of it. You know that it causes cancer, heart disease, stroke and all other kinds of diseases. You also know that smoking takes off plenty of years from your lifespan.

Still you wonder – why can’t I stop? Well, you could be having a psychological addiction to smoking.

Yes, you read it right. Most of the reasons why many people don’t quit despite the alarming effects of tobacco use are psychological in nature. Whenever you see celebrities puff cigarettes in movies, or your friends light up, there’s an immediate desire within you to smoke as well. But don’t worry, although it’s not that easy for many, it is possible to break your psychological addiction to smoking.

First, you need to identify the root cause of your addiction. Here is a list of the most common reasons why people start smoking:

Woman lying on therapists couch looking happy as therapist is writing

  • To gain sense of belonging. This reason is common among teenagers. Because their friends smoke, a lot of young people do the same thing. They smoke to fit with the crowd.
  • To assert independence. Young adults smoke to manifest their independence. Even though they know it’s bad for their health, they do it to show that no one (not even their parents) can tell them what and what not to do.
  • People are enticed by smoking ads. Tobacco companies spend millions of dollars for advertisement. And it’s worth the money. A lot of people smoke as a response to the TV commercial or print ad they saw. An example is Joe Camel (Old Joe). He was a cartoon character used by a tobacco company to target young people. Joe has features of a scrotum and other private organs that provide subliminal sex appeal. Disgusting isn’t it? That’s how these companies promote their products. They have probably hired some of the best advertising contractors out there because they are able to hook millions of people, especially the younger ones, to smoking.
  • Some are influenced by others. Some people smoke simply because their parents do. In most cases, these people have been exposed to smoking since childhood and came to think that it is okay to smoke.
  • DID YOU KNOW?

    Most of the reasons why many people don’t quit despite the alarming effects of tobacco use are psychological in nature. Whenever you see celebrities puff cigarettes in movies, or your friends light up, there’s an immediate desire within you to smoke as well. But don’t worry, although it’s not that easy for many, it is possible to break your psychological addiction to smoking.

    The list goes on. You probably have your own personal reason why you started smoking. And of course, the psychological addiction to smoking is powerful without any drug intervention. So smokers would find it hard to ditch the habit, especially since tobacco manufacturers have constantly increased the levels of nicotine – an addictive substance found in cigarettes. Studies found that the amount of nicotine in cigarettes between 1998 and 2005 have increased by 1.6 percent each year.

    This is one of the reasons why smokers of the present time have more difficulties quitting than smokers decades ago. Fortunately, there is a wide range of smoking cessation treatments (including medications) that can help you overcome both the psychological and physical addictions to smoking.


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