A young woman dangles a cigarette from her lips as she coolly exclaims, “I can quit anytime I want!”
She inhales deeply and slowly exhales the smoky mixture from her lungs to continue, “Why, I have done so on numerous occasions.”
Many people have similar views about addictive behaviors and substances—the I-can-quit-anytime-I-want-to’s. The addiction appears to have less value than the particular motivation to continue in the behavior. What incentive towards smoking in particular drives an individual to continue the behavior even though it harms the body—thwarting the natural inclination towards self-preservation? Extrinsic and intrinsic forces play what role in the development and maintenance of the smoking addiction and why?
Chemical dependency or classical conditioning (whether a conscientious choice or compulsion), or both may affect an addicts behavior about his or her addiction depending on the chemical make up of the person’s body and the genetic disposition to succumb to addictions. This article focuses on the function and structures of the brain associated with smoking and the extrinsic and intrinsic factors on the motivation to indulge in smoking behavior–with suggestions of how to overcome the addiction.
“Drugs motivate action by operating on individual neurons in the brain” (Decker, 2005, p. 92). Not only do drugs encourage action using neurons , but the brain itself consist of millions of cells that communicate with each other—transmitting and receiving—using neurons to convey information from one part of the body to another in a vast information superhighway called the central nervous system.
The brain communicates throughout the body as it receives information about the environment outside the body—particularly for warning, protection and such. The neurons themselves communicate with each other phasing electrical information to chemical information called neurotransmitters. The exchanges that occur between the neurons through this type of electrochemical osmosis occur constantly unless some interruption in the process happens.
Smokers experience this chemical interruption when the neurotransmitters functioning in the pleasure-producing sensor of the brain cease to function properly due to some outside interference blocking or replacing the hormonal/chemical actions that cause neurons to receive information (Decker, 2005).
This blockage or replacement can cause high levels of endorphins to accumulate in the brain because the neurons that would normally receive the neurotransmitters can not due to blockage by the alien imposter—leading to an over abundance of endorphins, acetylcholine and dopamine (Meeker-O’Connell, 2008). The proteins and biological chemicals cause an unusually euphoric, stimulating and pleasant response motivating an addict to continue the use of the drug (Meeker-O’Connell).
As mentioned before, particular biochemical processes occur within the brain that motivates the participant to continue in the behaviors. An addict may achieve a particular pleasurable or soothing sensation from partaking of the nicotine drug, but other factors contribute to the continued use of the drug it appears aside from chemical needs.
An individual may decide to smoke because he or she may have heard that cigarettes “calms nerves”. There may be some excitement that exist in the individual’s life that triggers a desire to smoke the cigarette, such as a group of associates who introduce the idea of smoking. Extrinsic factors such as social gatherings, peer pressure and marketing all have roles that contribute to the desire of an individual to smoke. After a person has started smoking, social gatherings, peer pressure and such becomes a retention tool that promotes fraternity.
At one of the Arizona campuses of the University of Phoenix, students and employees can be observed congregating and chatting around coffeemaker and designated smoking areas. Of all these individuals, inference that some participate in the smoking behavior for the camaraderie—because of diverse reasons—has justification based on common knowledge that people desire some type of social interaction.
With this possible point of association involved, some may not necessarily smoke because of chemical dependency, but have the intrinsic reasons for participating in smoking. Smoking for the sheer enjoyment may exist as a possibility after the extrinsic factor of reinforcement of the behavior by some force. It appears that the only way an inner value for smoking cigarettes can occur is if some outside value exists to motivate the habit in the first place.
To change the behaviors of smoking seems to have a different element that allows internal values to motivate a person to cease the habit. It appears that one type of motivation, extrinsic, must exist to form the habit, and another, intrinsic, to cease.
It is rare that smoking begins in a vacuum, but stopping must be a personal choice.
Another incentive for smoking that enables addicts to continue the behavior, though it harms the body and apparently overrides the natural struggle towards self-preservation appears to be habit.
Habit occurs after repeated use of cigarettes for the “wake-up smoke,” the “after breakfast smoke,” the mid-morning smoke,” and so on and so forth. I assisted in the successful completion of a multi-step method to end the behavior associated with cigarette addiction. What I discovered as I administered the program to many individuals is that nicotine addiction goes away after two weeks approximately; but because the body and mind receive conditioning to smoke at certain times of the day and in places of recreation, the subjects in the program still possessed a strong urge to smoke cigarettes.
This desire did not occur because of nicotine. Pavlov’s classic conditioning gives insight to this particular view. Pavlov conditioned dogs to respond to a bell for dinner after presenting food to the dogs every time the bell rang. Similarly, smokers and cigarettes allow not only the nicotine to affect them, but the “bells” as mentioned before, the “wake-up smoke,” and such.
One study suggest that some type of medication to dose smokers could assist smokers cease the habit of smoking and could very well assist in many people not smoking. A group of researchers concluded in their recent study entitled Using Mediational Models to Explore the Nature of Tobacco Motivation and Tobacco Treatment Effects that “those individuals who were randomly assigned to bupropion (pharmaceutical) treatment showed reduced overall withdrawal and craving in the first week post quit and marginally higher levels of positive effect, relative to individuals receiving placebo treatment” (Piper, Federman, McCarthy, Bolt, Smith, and Fiore, 2008, p. 104).
The Addiction is not what is hard to stop, it is the habit.
First of all, if you want to do it the natural way it will really be a hard thing to experience. Starting to smoke was not easy and neither will stopping be easy.
First, destroy the cigarettes and write a declaration letter of independence!
This is the hardest part of the steps because you think about the money you put into those packs. Waiting until you smoke them all or giving them away only gives you the psychological incentive to change your mind because you know where the cigarettes are.
Second, get rid of every ashtray and anything associate with smoking. That means, if you drink, while you are doing the steps don’t. If it is associated with a smoke, leave it lone until after the steps. Also, put no smoking signs on your door. If the sign becomes trigger though remove it.
Third, tell your friends and family that you are trying to quit smoking and not to do it round you. This may be hard because many of you friends may be smokers and you might have to choose between your health and a good smoking buddy. If you are serious about stopping though, this is a choice you must make. Also, you are going to be cranky and edgy for a while. Warn your family!
Fourth, go shopping! Purchase cinnamon flavored mouthwash, cinnamon flavored toothpaste, lots of non-sweetened grapefruit juice or grapefruit (or both) and cinnamon flavored sugarless gum.
You will have hard days. when you wake in the morning, mouthwash it. The cinnamon has the effect of curbing the cravings for some reason.
Fifth, after each meal or snack, brush your teeth and rinse your mouth! If even a particle of food is left in your teeth it could fall onto your tongue and trigger an urge to smoke
When the urge comes chew the gum. If that doesn’t work, drink the grapefruit juice or eat a grapefruit. Usually cigarettes do not taste good after grapefruit juice.
Sixth, have a buddy to call for support. Have some body to use a preselected reinforced to remind you of why you are trying to quit such as the declaration of independence.
Seventh, get religion or something close! When all else fails try meditation or prayer for strength. Knowing that something larger than you is there can help you not feel alone in the worst times.
Doing all these things you will stop smoking. If you relapse, start again. Do not harp on failures. These tools are for your success. They are to help you naturally kick the smoking habit. Oh yeah, do all of this for 21 days. After that you will not be addicted to cigarettes or have the habit.
If you put yourself back into the same environment though, it may be hard to stay free.
Deckers, L. (2005). Motivation (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson
Meeker-O’Connell A., (2008). How nicotine works. How Stuff
Works. Retrieved March 3, 2008, fromhttp://health.howstuffworks.com/nicotine4.htm
Piper, M., Federman, E., McCarthy, D., Bolt, D., Smith, S. and Fiore, M. (2008). Using mediational models to explore the nature of tobacco motivation and tobacco treatment effects. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117(1), 94-105. Retrieved March 3, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.