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  Smoking, Drinking & Addiction

 

Smoker's Face

B Positive Content Team

(Continued...)
 

  Stub it out
It would be safe to say that smoking not only makes you feel older, it also makes you look older than you actually are. Why is it then that so many people still stubbornly stick to this habit? The answer is really simple. Smoking is an addiction. While taking a few puffs of a cigarette will not make you an addict, prolonged use of tobacco will eventually lead to addiction. Smoking addiction works on two levels: physiological and psychological.

It is a well-known fact that tobacco contains nicotine. Nicotine is a psychoactive drug that stimulates electrical activity in the brain; it also stimulates the mesolimbic dopamine system. Dopamine is a hormone that produces feelings of pleasure and is often associated with feelings of reward and desire. This is why new smokers may experience a rush as they smoke a cigarette.

Over years of smoking, the body becomes accustomed to a certain level of nicotine in the bloodstream, which is why smokers can experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, blurry vision, and irritability when they attempt to quit smoking. Years of smoking also make the smoker associate a cigarette with feelings of pleasure. This leads to psychological conditioning that makes the smoker crave for a cigarette, especially in conditions of heightened stress.

In order to successfully quit smoking, both these issues of psychological and physiological dependence have to be addressed. The physiological dependence is easily handled through the use of nicotine substitutes such as patches and gums. However, psychological dependence on smoking is a more difficult beast to tame and involves a lot of will power. Therapy sessions and hypnosis have been successfully used to wean away people from smoking.

Now that you know about the harmful effects of cigarettes as well as the strategies to quit smoking, lack of information is no longer an excuse. We are no longer in the sixties when it was actually considered fashionable to smoke. Smoking is no longer considered to be a symbol of machismo, or for that matter, of being chic. The ill effects of smoking are continuously being highlighted in the media and bans on smoking in public also serve to reinforce this message.

While all this information seems to have actually worked in the West, and the incidence of smoking has been on the wane there, in India, it is still on the rise. Perhaps what is required here is a stricter control on the sale of cigarettes to minors.
Statistics prove that most smokers pick up the habit in their teens. If we can stop vendors from selling cigarettes to the young, we may be on the way to saving a whole generation of Indians from the ill-effects of cigarette smoke. 

 
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