Smoking : An Addiction or Habit – Part 2

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If smoking is not a 100% physical addiction what is it? Well, you would be more accurate in descrobing it as a psychological addiction.

What is a psychological addiction? It is a mental urge or reminder to do something because of a particular trigger or stimulus. Let me explain. If you ask a smoker the times they normally reach for a cigarette they will list somthing very similar to the following :-

1) With a coffee first thing in the morning
2) Before breakfast
3) After breakfast
4) In the car on the way to work
5) Whilst walking from home to the bus / tube / train
6) From the bus / tube / train to work
7) During regular wok breaks ( every hour or 90 minutes or ?)
8) Around meals
9) With an alcoholic drink
10) When I am on the telephone
11) When I feel stressed
12) when I am bored

These times or events and many more trigger a response in the smoker to smoke. It’s a bit like when you think of salt you think of pepper. In other words the smoker has made an association between these times and events. An association is something you have just gotten used to being there or happening. In other words it has become habitual. You do one thing and the other comes with it. You eat a meal and then you light up.

Habits are automatic responses that we have to many events and/or stimuli. They are also learnt responses. we are not born with them… they are acquired via repitition.

If you think about aboutit, one of the reasons humans are successful is their ability to learn something new and rapidly make it into a habit, second nature, something that can be done without thinking about it. This is really what a habit is. The marvellous thing about smoking mainly being a habit is that you. the smoker are in control and can change it.

Everytime we change jobs because of a promotion or jump to a new organisation we are dropping old habits and picking up new habits. The new organisation will do things differnetly from the old one. New procedures, new systems and new personnel all have to be gotten used to. So as the new employee for a little while it feels all new but quite soon we get to know where things are, how this organisation likes things to be done and we develop new habits and we feel secure and confident.

The same is true when we move home. A new home in a different location brings with it different neighbours, shopping habits, and new routes and travelling arrangements. It seems strange to start off with but very soon we get used to it and it becomes second nature. It becomes a habit.

This is the same for stopping smoking. We survived perfectly well before we started smoking and we can survive just as well as a non-smoker again. It really is about just dropping an old outdated habit.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

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