Why do we reach for a cigarette?

Common answers are:

“I smoke because it is a pleasure for me.”
“I smoke because I have a nervous job.”
“I smoke because I can’t stop. I have tried to quit smoking so many times. ”
“I smoke because it’s easier for me to concentrate.”
“I smoke because the cigarette calms me down.”
“I smoke because I don’t get fat thanks to it.”

Why is smoking becoming such an important part of life?

Most often, the first cigarette is used by people at a young age, when their habits are formed; it’s a time when they make more and more independent decisions about their own way of life. Experimenting and learning new things is typical for adolescence. This is one of the stories associated with experimenting at the age of 10: “When my colleague brought his father’s cigarettes, he talked me into trying. We followed the block into the bushes and lit there for the first time. I was excited, I felt older. I also knew I was doing something that was forbidden. I didn’t like the cigarette and choked. I smoked a few times later because I wanted to learn it. But I got bored and when I saw a movie about smoker’s lungs at school, I decided not to smoke. ” As in the example shown, some young people stop at meeting the need for curiosity. But smoking can also be associated with a rebellion against authorities, difficulties in managing free time, a sense of loneliness, and coping with everyday problems. Over time, if reaching for a cigarette becomes regular, addiction develops.

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What causes tobacco addiction?

Three groups of factors influencing the development of addiction can be distinguished.

Chemical properties of nicotine

The first group of factors concerns the chemical properties of tobacco. Among the components of tobacco smoke that have already been mentioned, nicotine has addictive potential. The pharmacological mechanism of its action is analogous to that of heroin and amphetamine; What’s more, nicotine has several times more powerful effects on the nervous system than alcohol, opiates and other drugs. The creation of an “artificial physiological need” – the compulsion to use tobacco – results from an increase in the activity of nicotine metabolizing enzymes and from the so-called neuroadaptation consisting in changing the number of receptors for a substance in order to maintain a relative balance in the functioning of the body. According to numerous studies, the neuronal foundation of tobacco addiction is the activation of the neuronal ‘pleasure network’ by increasing dopamine secretion. This mechanism is associated with mental functions and its appearance is interpreted as a reward. However, the reduction or lack of nicotine leads to the appearance of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, anxiety, sleep problems, increased sweating, problems concentrating.

Social Factors

The second group of factors conditioning the emergence and development of tobacco addiction is associated with social influences. Adults, treating smoking as part of their lifestyle, model behavior in young people. People who start smoking at a young age become addicted over time. Tobacco belongs to those substances that are easily available, including at home and for minors. It is sold despite the ban guaranteed by the Act on the protection of health against the consequences of using tobacco and tobacco products of November 9, 1995.

A peer group among adolescents, in which the norm is reaching for this drug, has a huge impact on experimenting with smoking and regular smoking. Family and social acceptance is also important. People who declare that they are against smoking often do not react, even when they see, for example, a child with a cigarette. It is widely believed that of all addictions, smoking is the least harmful. The incorrectness of this view is confirmed by the data presented here.

Individual factors

The third group of factors influencing the emergence and development of addiction focuses on individual biological and psychological predispositions of man. The age of starting smoking is important. The younger a person is, the faster he becomes addicted, the longer he smokes and the consequences of smoking are more significant for his health.

Some personality traits carry the risk of developing addiction; these are: emotional immaturity, low tolerance for frustration, limited self-control as well as impulsiveness and aggressiveness. The risk is also increased by temperamental factors, especially emotional hyperactivity, difficulties in controlling emotional states and behavior.