|If you've tried quitting before, you may have felt irritable when you didn't have a cigarette. Why has quitting smoking always been so hard? The answer has a lot to do with nicotine.
Nicotine addiction cycle
• For most people, smoking is more than a habit. It's a nicotine addiction. Nicotine withdrawal is why you probably feel irritable or anxious when you don't have a cigarette.
• When you smoke, nicotine goes to the brain in seconds.
• When nicotine is in the brain, it causes the release of a chemical called dopamine, which gives the feeling of pleasure and calm.
• Your body doesn't want that feeling to stop. But when you're between cigarettes, the level of dopamine drops. That's what gives the feeling of nicotine withdrawal. So you may get irritable.
• Even if you want to quit, the body craves nicotine. This makes you keep smoking.
The more you smoke, the more nicotine you need
Over time, each cigarette you smoke may become less and less effective. That's because, as the brain gets used to nicotine, you may need to smoke more to have the same feeling of pleasure and calm. Of course, the more you smoke, the more you inhale toxins in cigarettes that are linked to smoking-related illnesses.
How does it feel to quit?
On top of feeling the urge to smoke, you may also feel some of these common physical nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
• Dizziness (at first)
• Trouble sleeping
• Trouble concentrating
• Increased appetite
• Coughing and dry throat
• Slower heart rate
• These effects will lessen over time.
Next, better health
Smoking-related health risks are actually caused by the other ingredients found in your cigarettes. For example, tobacco smoke has more than 60 ingredients known to cause cancer in humans. Luckily, once you quit, your risk of getting a smoking-related illness can start to drop-almost immediately.
How your doctor can help
Quitting smoking is hard, but possible. Your doctor can talk to you about nicotine addiction and tell you about treatment options and behavior support that may be right for you.