Blog 26th of January 2017

Quit smoking now for a healthier life

As a psychologist, I often notice that one starts smoking at a very early age due to peer pressure and ignorance. Which is why I find it so important to warn this vulnerable group of young people of the detrimental effects that smoking has on our health.

Why are cigarettes so addictive?
In the case of addiction, nicotine is one of the most addictive substances. It has an effect on the brain, the endocrine and cardiovascular system, the gastrointestinal tract, and the muscles.

Nicotine activates the reward system of the brain, while simultaneously blocking the ability for the brain to stop this 'reward'. And because the human mind is able to differentiate food from poison, the novice smoker will feel dizzy or nausea after smoking - yet still continue to do it! And as they continue to have a few cigarettes a day, week, or month, they still feel as though they can quit due to these uncomfortable side effects. Little do they know that at this stage, they are most likely already addicted.

Addiction is summarised as the inability to stop using a particular drug, despite their knowledge of the harmful side effects. This is because a 'good feeling' is brought about when engaging with said-drug. Often, a smoker will associate positive thoughts to times when they have a cigarette. For example, having a cigarette after meals or with coffee helps one relax. But if the smoker has any hope of quitting the habit, they'll have to realise that that is merely the addiction talking.   

What are the benefits of quitting smoking?

Every year, more and more people die due to the effects of smoking. But so often, people find it extremely difficult to quit! This is largely because the negative effects may only appear years down the line, and not immediately.

But here are some of the positive effects you'll experience if you decide to stop smoking:
- Your heart rate and blood pressure level go back to normal a mere 20 minutes after smoking.
- After eight hours, the oxygen level in your blood decreases, which lowers the risk of a heart attack.
- After 48 - 96 hours, the body is nicotine-free, and your sense of smell and taste become more prominent. 

The real benefits of quitting smoking however, become apparent in the long term, as the risk of disease heavily decreases.

Hopefully this article has given you a better understanding of why smoking is so harmful for your health, as well as opened your eyes to the negative impact of nicotine.

Don't hesitate to seek professional help if you feel like cigarettes have taken control of your life!

Lieve Plasch.

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