Five Common Smokers Myths
What we tell ourselves
If you are trying to quit smoking, have tried to quit, or just think you can’t quit, it is important to understand that smoking is an addiction. All addictions carry with them baggage that works against the mind to prevent it from doing what is best. Ultimately, the addiction “tricks” us into thinking that we need the substance. Whether you are talking about heroin, alcohol, or nicotine, all addictions lead us to believe certain things that just aren’t true.
Here are some of the most common myths our minds trick us into thinking when we are trying to quit smoking:
1. Smoking relieves my stress
Many people believe that smoking cigarettes reduces their stress and helps them deal with certain situations. The reality is that smoking is only a habit we have gotten into to cope with stress. What ends up happening is that smoking is worked into our “reward pathway” and it becomes a part of stressful situations rather than something to alleviate it. Nicotine releases dopamine in the brain and prolongs its action. Dopamine is part of the pleasure center of the brain and as a result we end up with pleasure during stressful situations that can seem to calm us down. In reality, Nicotine is a stimulant and does no such thing as “calm” the body or mind. You aren’t relieving stress by smoking when you are dealing with stress, you are just giving your brain a dose of something that it is addicted to.
2. I smoke because I want to
Nobody wants to smoke, regardless of what they tell other people. People want nicotine. If you are a smoker, have you ever needed to smoke and instead had a clove cigarette? It’s not exactly satisfying. The reason is because there isn’t any nicotine in a clove cigarette and therefore no activation of the nicotinic receptor and dopamine release. If you are choosing to smoke because you want to, it is merely because you don’t want to starve your brain from something it has become used to and deal with the withdrawal associated with that.
3. I smoke because my life is hard and I need to
This is in essence, quite true on one hand and a total myth on the other. There may be reasons that you have picked up smoking and quite often, any addiction starts with some form of trigger that goes far deeper than this discussion. However, at some point the addiction becomes a self-propagating motivation in of itself and regardless why you started smoking, you may continue to smoke because of the addiction not just because “life is hard”. The truth is, your mind is far better equipped to deal with tough situations when it is not addicted to something and you aren’t shielding yourself from reality. The hard reality is that continuing to smoke as a crutch to deal with tough situations may prevent you from dealing with them the right way and changing your life so you don’t have these tough situations.
4. I don’t have the willpower to quit
Its difficult for anybody who understands addiction to argue with this without sounding like a hypocrite. The reason we included this as a myth is because you do have the willpower, you really do. Most smokers who have tried to quit and failed have just been unable to deal with the withdrawal symptoms that can be quite difficult. Nicotine withdrawal goes far beyond just physical cravings. After a couple of days without cigarettes, the symptoms get very psychological and make it seem as if life just plain stinks. When that happens, all it takes is a couple cigarettes and everything is better. This is why Nicotine is such a difficult addiction to overcome. However, you can do it and the more you understand about how your mind works and what it is telling you, the better equipped you will be to deal with it.
5. I can quit when I’m ready
This is another one that’s part true, part myth. To quit smoking you must be ready to quit, prepared, and willing to work hard at it. However, because you are addicted to it you will never feel completely ready and this can only be another excuse to continue smoking. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that when you are truly ready it will be easy. For some people this may have proven true and they dropped the habit just like that. However, if you’re on this site you may not be one of those people. When you have made the decision that you don’t want to be a smoker forever, then you are ready and it won’t be easy but you can do it.