Why do I Love and Hate Smoking at the Same Time
Why do I love and hate smoking at the same time?
It is important for aspiring quitters to realize that, especially in the early stages of quitting, they may experience a profound state of ambivalence about their smoking. When you first decide to quit, your positive feelings about smoking do not simply disappear, but your negative feelings will increase considerably. Once you quit, you will find that your positive feelings about cigarettes will diminish with time.
It is encouraging to realize that, by quitting smoking, you are taking part in a massive social movement. In the past twenty years, over 50 million people have quit smoking. In recent years, three million people quit smoking every year. You can be an ex-smoker, too!
Quitting smoking is like declaring internal warfare between your intelligent mind and your biological brain. Your intellect knows that smoking is bad for your health, hates smoking, and wants to quit. However, your biological brain has been programmed over eons of time to "seek pleasure, and avoid pain," and it likes the pleasurable effects of nicotine and smoking.
Nicotine has a powerful hold on your biological brain. No other drug affects as many pleasurable and potent neurochemicals as nicotine. At high doses (over 15 cigarettes a day), nicotine acts like both a stimulant and a depressant drug, and it gives you a two-for-one deal! It produces a temporary state of enhanced well being, effectively decreases anxiety and depression, and produces a pleasurable state of "alert relaxation."
Also, recent research has revealed that tobacco smoke, separate from the nicotine, also increases pleasurable chemicals in the brain, so that both may be involved with your smoking addiction. Nicotine and smoking help the user to:
• Tolerate higher levels of stress without suffering from the effects of stress symptoms,
• Calm down when they are feeling tense,
• Pep up when they are feeling lethargic,
• Feel like they can concentrate and focus more effectively on their work,
• Control unpleasant feelings,
• Attain a mild and functional state of "alert relaxation" and well being,
• Manage their weight.
You are probably thinking, "What a deal! Why would anyone want to quit smoking?" However, despite all these positive effects, smokers risk paying a terrible price for their habit: half of all cigarette smokers will die from the effects of their smoking, and many more will sacrifice the quality and longevity of their lives, or the lives of their loved ones, to this addiction.
The probability of trying tobacco, becoming addicted, and dying prematurely is higher with tobacco than with any other drug. In the United States, over 450,000 people die each year from their cigarette smoking, and over 50,000 people die each year from the effects of secondhand smoke.
That is the equivalent of three 747 jumbo jets crashing every day for a year! Seventy percent of adult smokers wish that they could quit. In 1998, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) designated nicotine addiction as its highest priority drug addiction.
Making lists of the reasons why you want to quit and the reasons why you hate smoking can help you to fight ambivalence when your biological brain wants to smoke. Be sure to put this list where you can see it often, especially when you are experiencing a cigarette craving. Anytime your motivation wanes or your ambivalence reoccurs, do these lists again, they can often revive your motivation and commitment to quit.
So, be gentle with yourself as you wage internal warfare between your intellect and your biological brain. You are likely to experience mixed emotions, and love and hate your smoking at the same time. Such experiences are common and normal with nicotine addiction and the quitting process.
Make a commitment to your life and the health of your loved ones to quit smoking, no matter how many times you have to try! Rejoice every time you successfully overcome the desire to smoke a cigarette, learn from every setback and obstacle, and keep your mind and heart on your goal to become an ex-smoker!