I Panic at the Idea of Quitting Smoking

That’s normal - especially if you’ve had a lot of difficulty in the past.

Quitting smoking can give you a case of the blues:

“Are my nicotine cravings ever going to stop?”
“I’m always on edge.”
“I become a real monster.” etc…

These thoughts make it harder for you to quit smoking. You may start thinking “If it’s going to be this bad, I might as well light one up!” Instead, press "pause" and take few minutes to consider the following information; it will help you change the way you look at these difficulties, counter negative self-judgment and keep you motivated to stick to your goal of getting free from smoking.

Understanding the cigarette addiction

It’s not lack of willpower that makes a person fail at quitting smoking or fall back into the trap after many years without smoking. Other factors weighs more heavily in those outcomes:

1. The age of initiation to cigarettes

Almost 80% of current adult smokers fell into tobacco’s trap as teenagers. At that age, the brain is still developing. Introducing a substance like tobacco at this period of life, which acts directly on important parts of the brain, may lead rapidly to a strong physical addiction.

What’s more, adolescence is a key stage in the development of personality. Turning to a substance that quickly becomes linked to all of life’s events – by the power of the physical addiction it establishes – also creates a strong psychological dependence.

So, starting smoking in adolescence might entail those far-reaching consequences:

  • The younger you are when you start to smoke, the greater the risk of smoking more and for longer as well as weakening the mental balance on the long term (like being more subject to depression, stress and anxiety).
  • The longer you smoke, higher the number of cigarettes smoked.
  • The more cigarettes you smoke:
    • The greater the risk to develop diseases cause by smoking (cancers, cardiovascular illnesses, premature aging, etc.);
    • The greater the risk to develop a strong psychological dependence.

2. Physiological and psychological impact of nicotine

Nicotine, the natural occurring drug in tobacco, triggers in the brain the release of different neurotransmitters, like endorphins. These compounds produce a cascade of positive effect (pleasure, stimulation, relaxation) without disrupting the smoker behaviour.

  • Each cigarette puff create those pleasurable outcomes in less than 10 seconds!

Normally, your brain produce and manage its neurotransmitters mainly:

  • Following the actions that you do or the thoughts and emotions that you have (like when you’re doing physical activities or when you think of something that you’re looking forward to or hoping to get).

This is a fundamental system of our body called the “reward circuitry”.

In the case of a daily smoker, smoking disrupt very badly this important system: it drives his brain to depend on a foreign chemical, nicotine, to produce its own endorphins. So, in order to feel good, a daily smoker come to depend mainly on his nicotine doses. Therefore the powerful physical and psychological addiction cause by tobacco smoking.

In short, it goes like this:

  • Each puff bring some form of gratification or relief.
  • Each cigarette bring about 10 puffs.
  • Because of the gratification or relief effect, those cigarettes puffs are registered by the brain and, in a certain way, by the body also (a successful gesture repeated tens of thousands of time each year!)
  • All those successful puffs are associated positively in the brain (and the body) to the situations, thoughts and emotions that the smoker is experiencing. Whether they’re pleasant, ordinary or unpleasant, the cigarette become a kind of universal crutch allowing the smoker to go through any type of situation, thought or emotion in a pleasurable way or, at least, in a bearable way.


Nicotine’s effect on the brain and body
The powerful association of this effect with the situations, thoughts and emotions
The enormous amount of time that a regular smoker bring a cigarette to his mouth
The brain and the body remain especially sensitive to nicotine and gestures/behaviors associated with smoking even after living as a non smoker for many years (variable according to people).

This explain why:

  • Relapses occur as much in pleasant situations as unpleasant ones;
  • We might hear from some ex-smokers things like: “A good cigarette with a good coffee, that was so good.”, “I loved to smoke!”, “Quitting made me feel like I was losing my best friend.”, etc.;
  • An ex-smoker might relapse in the smoking trap even many years after quitting.

You understand better now why it’s perfectly normal to worry about quitting smoking and why it’s irrelevant to judge oneself negatively when failing to quit: you’re facing a powerful programing!

Good news though: a programing, however powerful it may be, can be override!

To do so, explore this section to accelerate your smoking deprogramming and be better prepare for the next one : Register to I QUIT NOW. There you’ll find new tools to go through the cravings to smoke without smoking.

You can also benefit right now from the free support of the I QUIT NOW services.

Each year, thousands of people just like you free themselves from tobacco’s hold.

You can do it too. Really, you can!

I need help

You would like to have support from smoking cessation professionals to help you quit smoking, but you don’t know which service to turn to? Learn more about the I QUIT NOW services and their free personalized support via online help, by phone, in person or by text message.


You want to quit smoking at you own pace and keep track of your progress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Sign up to the I QUIT NOW online help for free and discover our everyday life tips and experiential exercises to help let the cravings pass.



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