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Psychological Effects of Nicotine

For many, the difficulty of quitting smoking is largely due to the physical dependence of nicotine. Once a person is addicted to the effects of nicotine it is hard to see beyond the physical into the psychological effects of smoking. Smokers physically experience nicotine withdrawals daily, it is our bodies’ way of telling us that its supply of nicotine is low and it needs a boost. When we consider the psychological aspect of smoking it can make quitting even more difficult.

As a smoker I started to relate smoking with various aspects of my life. Over time I began to think I needed a smoke to relax, prevent boredom, reduce stress, and even take away the hunger pains I felt right before lunch. As I continued to smoke year after year it become a habit to smoke whenever I had to deal with my feelings. Eventually, my thinking I had to smoke turned into a core belief that I had to smoke to feel normal and get through life. I believed that smoking was the only way to deal with these type of problems when in fact it was not. However, at the time I did not know any better. All I knew was that smoking a cigarette helped.

When I made the decision to quit smoking I had to not only deal with the physical effects as well as the psychological effects of smoking. The physical effects were just that, physical. I could handle the nicotine withdrawal symptoms that I experienced but when it came down to handling the psychological effects of smoking I had a much more difficult time. For so many years I believed that smoking was the only way to handle many of the day-to-day feelings. When you believe that the one thing you can’t have is the only thing that can help you then how are you going to be able to succeed at quitting smoking? It makes it almost impossible to quit smoking unless you are able to change your beliefs about smoking.

In my efforts to quit smoking it was critical for me to understand that there are ways to dealing with stress, anger, boredom, etc. without smoking. I had to develop new ways of dealing with these issues. In the beginning of my smoke free lifestyle I would often hear the voice in my head that told me, “I need a cigarette.” It was important for me to be aware of that voice and to quickly change that thought to, “I don’t need a cigarette, and there are better ways to handle my feelings.” By simply changing the way I thought about smoking I was able to overcome the psychological effects of nicotine.

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