Smoking is bad for you. That’s a message that almost everybody on the planet will have heard by now. Smoking kills 480,000 people in the United States every year and is directly responsible for 90% of all lung cancer and COPD deaths. That’s just the tip of the iceberg; emphysema, bronchitis, heart disease, and strokes can all be caused by smoking.
One often misunderstood side effect of smoking is the mental health impact. Many smokers believe that a cigarette is their gateway to better mental health – it calms them down, cools them off, and levels them out. That’s a fallacy, a misunderstanding of the symptoms of addiction. We’re going to explore the negative effects of smoking on your mental health and how you can begin to make positive changes in beating your addiction.
Smoking’s Effect on Mental Health
As we ascertained, smoking has a detrimental effect on mental health, extending beyond its well-established physical consequences. The link between smoking and mental health issues is complex, but a Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience report finds there is absolute evidence of a link. Nicotine, the addictive component in cigarettes, acts as a psychoactive substance, influencing neurotransmitter activity in the brain. While initially providing a sense of relaxation and pleasure, which gives the impression of having a positive impact, smoking ultimately contributes to the development and persistence of mental health disorders.
One of the most significant mental health impacts of smoking is its association with anxiety and depression. Nicotine dependence creates a cycle where individuals may smoke to alleviate stress, but in the long term, smoking contributes to increased anxiety levels. Studies indicate that smokers are more likely to experience depressive symptoms than non-smokers, suggesting a strong correlation between smoking and mood disorders.
The harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage blood vessels, reducing the flow of oxygen to the brain, thereby impairing cognitive function. Memory loss, in the short term, is one linked symptom of nicotine addiction, and that’s by far the most mild. At the other end of the scale, smoking has been linked to cognitive decline and an increased risk of developing conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
How To Quit Smoking
If the negative physical aspects were not enough to ensure you quit smoking, the negative cognitive impact should be the tipping point. Every year, an estimated 21.5 million people in the United States try to quit smoking, equating to 55.1% of all adult smokers. The message is getting through, but of the 21.5 million, around 7.5% are successful, or to put it another way, 92.5% of people fail. How can you be one of the 7.5%?
The first step is motivation. You must want to give up smoking for yourself, not because a loved one has asked. If you want something, then you are more willing to fight for it than do it for someone else. Of course, being asked by your son or daughter is motivation, but if you only do it to keep them happy, you’re always going to fail.
Outside of that, there are plenty of strategies one can employ to stop smoking. Many have turned to vaping, but legislation across the United States is making that tough. The FDA banned Juul vaping products in June 2022, and in many places, vaping is seen as being almost as destructive as smoking. Where there are smoking bans, such as in public places, they often also include vaping.
Nicotine replacement therapy, known colloquially as NRT, is a current method that has gained popularity. NRT products deliver a hit of tobacco-free nicotine to the body through various infusion methods and can often be customized to allow for gentle weaning from nicotine.
One such product is a nicotine pouch, which sits between your lip and gum to deliver nicotine over a period of around 30 minutes. Juice Head nicotine pouches exemplify the benefits of the product, as they come in various flavors to make the experience more palatable – pineapple mint and mango strawberry mint, to name but two. Like most NRTs, they’re discreet, and since they come in 6 mg and 12 mg nicotine strengths, you can reduce your nicotine intake over time.
Other NRTs work in a similar manner. The nicotine patch is well-known and acts much like a band-aid, fixing to the skin, usually the upper arm, to deliver nicotine. Lozenges are similar to pouches; they’re flavored and dissolve in your mouth between your cheek and gum. They also come in different flavors and strengths, like pouches, and can be used up to 20 times a day by a heavy smoker just starting their cessation journey.
The negative mental effects of smoking are numerous they’re perhaps not as well known as the physical effects, but they’re there. The threat of cancer, heart disease, and other horrible diseases should be enough to put people on their cessation journey, but if not, the outlined mental health issues here should be the tipping point. Hopefully, with our advice, you can move in 2024 with the aim of being happy, healthy, and smoke-free.
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