Quitting takes hard work and a lot of effort, but it is possible. Understanding your body’s reaction to nicotine and learning what resources and treatment options are available can be your first step.
Why is nicotine so addictive?
Nicotine is addictive because, like all other addictive drugs, it activates your brain’s reward system. When you smoke, the nicotine from the cigarette absorbs quickly and within 10 seconds is affecting your brain. While in your brain, nicotine increases the levels of dopamine, a chemical messenger that stimulates the pleasure and reward system, causing a satisfying, positive feeling.
However, the effects of nicotine are short-lived, and as nicotine levels in the body decrease, so do the satisfying and positive feelings. To keep the same sensations, you need to smoke more nicotine. As levels of nicotine drop, you will also start to experience the unpleasant symptoms of nicotine withdrawal such as irritability, headaches, and anxiety. To relieve withdrawal symptoms, you need to smoke more – and before you know it you’re addicted.
I’ve tried several times to stop smoking and can’t. Will I ever be able to quit?
Don’t be discouraged! Most smokers take several tries to quit before they finally succeed. With each attempt to quit, you learn more about what works for you – and what doesn’t work, of course. The trick is to take what you learn each time you try to quit and incorporate it into your next attempt. It’s a process some refer to as “turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones.”
If you relapse, consider talking to your Save-on-Foods pharmacist to try to figure out what triggered your relapse, what you might not have considered, and how you might better prepare for the next time. Keep in mind that relapsing is a natural part of the quitting process.
I want to quit smoking. What should I do now to get started?
Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but you can improve your chances by preparing well. One of the simplest first steps is to pick a quit date. Once you have a goal date in mind, you can get prepared.
Afraid you might waver on your way?
- Make a list of the pros and cons of quitting smoking and refer back to it when you need a reminder.
- Strategize ways to handle nicotine cravings and roadblocks you might encounter while you try to quit.
- Set up a support system, including friends, family members, or one of your health care professionals. These go-to cheerleaders can help you when you feel like you need a cigarette.
- Work with a health care professional. See our pharmacist for support and tools to help you quit and learn about:
- Treatment options
- Strategies to stay smoke-free
- Practical lifestyle tips
- Weight management tips
Also, check with your pharmacist if your local provincial government offers resources and support programs to quit smoking. For example, BC residents may qualify for the BC Government’s Smoking Cessation program, where participants receive free nicotine replacement therapies or coverage on other prescription treatment options. For 12 continuous weeks per calendar year, the government will cover 100%* of the cost for Nicotine Replacement Therapy in the form of gum, lozenges, inhalers, or patches.